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22 March 1942: Ta Qali Repaired in 24 Hours – Malta Convoy Attacked

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ROUND THE CLOCK REPAIRS GET AIRFIELD UP AND RUNNING AFTER CARPET-BOMBING

Reviewing the devastation caused by carpet-bombing of Ta Qali over the past 72 hours, Air Officer Commanding, Air Marshall Sir Hugh Pughe Lloyd, concludes that the airfield is likely to be out of action for a week.  Responding to a call from Malta’s High Command, the Army joins forces with the RAF in an all out effort to repair the damage and get the runway operational.  Despite enemy bombing, and a heavy machine-gun attack by a formation of Messerschmitts, working parties labour tirelessly round the clock, and by dusk today the airfield was declared serviceable again.

HMS Kingston

FOUR HOUR BATTLE TO DEFEND MALTA CONVOY

Malta’s survival is under threat unless the Island gets essential supplies to keep going and withstand the enemy onslaught.  A small, fast-moving convoy of four freighters left Alexandria 48 hours ago with a large cruiser and destroyer escort, in an attempt to run essential items across the Mediterranean.  By 0930 hrs this morning the Italian Navy had closed on the convoy and attacked the escort ships.  Destroyers Havock and Kingston were hit during a day of engagement, before the attackers were beaten off at 1900 hrs.  The convoy is reported as still heading for Malta with its escort, including the damaged destroyers.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 MARCH TO DAWN 23 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; 100% low cloud.

0655-0801 hrs  Six ME 109s carry out a patrol south east of the Island.

0815-0840 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by seven ME 109s approach the Island.  The ME 109s drop four 250kg and twelve 50kg high explosive (HE) bombs on Ta Qali while the JU 88 carries out reconnaissance.

0852-0907 hrs  Six ME 109s carry out a patrol round the Island.

0917-0937 hrs  Six ME 109s carry out a patrol round the Island.

0951 hrs  ME 109s patrol the Island while JU 88s carry out three bomb attacks.  Bombs are dropped on Luqa and Safi strip, and Ta Qali.  Malta’s fighters and Heavy Ack Ack engage. HAA damage one JU 88.

1020 hrs  Three JU 88s drop bombs in a line from Luqa to Siggiewi.  One Maryland and one Wellington are burned out, two Blenheims damaged.   Two RAF and two Army personnel are injured.

1026 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) engage two JU 88s diving from 5000 to 2000 feet: two guns claim one hit each.  Seven Hurricanes 185 Squadron, Hal Far are scrambled to intercept three JU 88s.  Sighting their quarry over Filfla, pilots P/O Allardice, P/O Wigley and Sgt Robb attack, scoring hits on fuselage and wings.  P/O Allardice fails to return.

1145 hrs  B Company, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment reports one fighter crashing into the sea off west Bassasa.

1235 hrs  Raiders passed.

1250-1305 hrs  Two ME 109s carry out a patrol east of the Island.

1318-1323 hrs  Two ME 109s carry out a patrol east of the Island.

1408 hrs  Ten ME 109s carry out a patrol, then swoop down over Ta Qali, machine-gunning the airfield.  Light Ack Ack engage and ground defences return heavy fire, damaging one ME 109.

1410 hrs  Two defence posts of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt spot one JU 88 flying low towards the coast and open fire: no claims made.

1440-1725 hrs  Enemy fighters patrol the Island.  ME 109s drop 16 HE bombs on Ta Qali. Malta’s fighters are up: no engagements.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1730 hrs  11th Bn Lancashire Regt reports aerial torpedo mines dropped around their coastline.

1733 hrs  Three Spitfires are airborne from Luqa to escort five Albacores.  20 miles from Malta the formation is attacked by two ME 109s.  F/L McQueen attacks one, closing to 50 yards, and sees the ME dive into the sea.

1738 hrs  Four enemy aircraft patrol east of the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1827 hrs  One aircraft approaches to the north of Grand Harbour, then recedes.  HAA do not engage.

1919 hrs  Three aircraft approach to the north of Grand Harbour, then recede.  HAA do not engage.

1938 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the south east, then recedes.  HAA do not engage.

1940 hrs  All clear.

2158-2210 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

Night  No air raids: weather deteriorating.

Military casualties  Signalman Claude Brown, HMS Havock; Ordinary Seaman Arthur Crane, HMS Havock.  Leading Stoker Henry Neuschaffer, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman Daniel Ferris, HMS Kingston; Pilot Officer Philip Allardice, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR), 185 Squadron; Gunner Alfred Segon, 4th Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Mosta  Joseph Bartolo, age 40; Saverin Galea, age 45; Grezzju Schembri, age 9.  Valletta  John Cachia, age 48.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 22 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Olympus sailed for Gibraltar with passengers and stores.  Five Albacores carried out a shipping sweep without result.  An escort of three Spitfires accompanying the Albacores shot down an ME109.  One Albacore landed in the sea off Zonkor Point: two of the crew missing.  PM  Naval engagement: convoy very heavily bombed; no casualties.  Dark CS 15 returned to Alexandria.  Convoy split and proceeded independently to Malta.

AIR HQ  Departures  Six Beauforts, two Blenheims to 108 MU.

HAL FAR  PM  Five Albacores are despatched to attack an enemy convoy but are recalled.  One Albacore is attacked by an ME 109; no damage.

TA QALI   Large Army working parties and salvage parties arranged and work proceeded.  By nightfall runway made serviceable.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  1930 hrs  Storm conditions NORAH and KATE.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Cpl Brown, L/Cpl Thomas and Fusilier Surgent injured by shrapnel.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 30.

 

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Posted by on March 22, 2017 in 1942, March 1942

 

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20 March 1942: Carpet Bombing of Ta Qali – 1000 HE Bombs in 2 Hours

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Ta Qali (NWMA Malta)

 

  • Five-hour continuous air raid from 8am
  • 114 high explosive bombs on Valletta and Grand Harbour
  • 1800kg bombs dropped on the capital
  • Cannon shells fired at civilian area
  • 21 civilians, 5 military killed
  • Army called in to repair Ta Qali runways

MASS FORMATIONS OF ENEMY RAIDERS 

“’There was a red flag warning, I was making my way down the main street in Valletta, clambering over masses of rubble. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining.  Looking up at the bright blue sky between the buildings, I watched as some 30 or more German bombers went over my head… they seemed headed towards Ta Qali.  It was that sort of life.  As far as I could tell, almost everyone else was in shelter or heading for shelter – which I respected.  I was on my own out there.’

Lt Carroll was looking up at the forward party of the 74 aircraft attacking Ta Qali today.  The enemy turned on the airfield with all their might, determined to destroy runways and write off all the aircraft…In just 24 hours, the Luftwaffe dropped nearly a thousand bombs, totalling almost 300 tons, on Ta Qali – an area the size of a small English village.  In a similar period 500 tons of bombs were used across the entire city of Coventry in England.  Here was the first ever instance of carpet bombing on such a scale against a military target.  And it had just been inflicted on the tiny Island of Malta. 

Delayed action bombs were scattered all over the airfield, holding up repair work on the runways.  The RAF called on Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal to help with the sheer number of unexploded bombs (UXB).  In two days, RE Bomb Disposal alone have received over 70 UXB reports.”  (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 MARCH TO DAWN 21 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind south west; clear.

0805 hrs  Four Hurricanes are scrambled from Ta Qali, joining seven others from Hal Far.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to act as top cover for the eleven Hurricanes.  Spitfire pilots spot six ME 109s: P/O McNair attacks and destroys one.

0825 hrs  P/O Leggo’s aircraft is attacked by ME 109s and loses its tail fin, causing it to spin downwards. P/O Leggo tries to regain control but without success, and bales out but at 100 feet his parachute has no time to open: he falls to his death.  The aircraft crashes to the ground between Qrendi and Siggiewi.

0900 hrs  Six JU 88s bomb Sliema and St Julians.  Bombs land on St Julians Police Station and Rockyvale.  L/Cpl Patt and Fusilier Russell of B Company, 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers is killed; two Fusiliers are injured and admitted to hospital.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage and destroy one JU 88. 

0920 hrs  Two JU 88s approach and drop one 1800kg High Explosive bomb each near the Fish Market in Valletta, and in Grand Harbour. 

One JU 88 carries out reconnaissance from the north to the south of the Island at 30000 feet.  Five JU 88s approach Grand Harbour but are turned away by Heavy and Light Ack Ack, dropping all bombs in the sea off Ricasoli and St Elmo. 

0950 hrs  Six JU 88s approach and bomb Marsa, Jesuits Hill and Gzira.  One gun position at Jesuits Hill receives a direct hit: no casualties.  One JU 88 is damaged by Light Ack Ack.  During the raid a Dornier flying boat searches north of the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack engages at extreme range.  Military casualties:  two killed; two wounded.

1245 hrs  Bombs land near D and R Companies of 11th Bn Lancashire Regt, south east of Cisk Brewery.  Cannon shells are fired at Birkirkara, causing civilian casualties.

1250 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) engage one JU 88: one hit claimed.

1311 hrs  All clear.

1618 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by two ME 109s approaches, then recedes, at 25000 feet.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1707 hrs  Ten ME 109s patrol the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack do not engage.

1720 hrs  44 JU 88s dive-bomb and machine-gun Ta Qali, killing 13 civilians.  Bombs cause considerable damage to barrack blocks and ablutions, roads and pens.  The aerodrome is cratered and unserviceable.  Several aircraft are damaged and one airman slightly injured.  Many fires are started.  Many delayed action bombs are used.  Ack Ack fires a strong response: four JU 88s are shot down and destroyed.

1816 hrs  Four JU 88s escorted by sixteen ME 109s bomb Ta Qali.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.  One JU 88 is damaged by Light Ack Ack.

1830 hrs  Three bombers dropped six bombs on Ta Qali, damaging Camp Magister and one billet.  LAC Armstrong is admitted to hospital, as is LAC Bond, who dies at 2345 hrs.

1919 hrs  About 50 aircraft, including JU 88s and fighter escort, head towards Malta in from North formed up in line ahead, at about 10000 ft. Heavy Ack Ack engage and as the raiders come with range of Bofors guns, the Light Ack Ack gunners open fire.  The shooting is extremely accurate in spite of difficult light. 

Enemy bombers get through to carry out a concentrated bombing attack on Ta Qali.  Bombs rain down on the airfield for half an hour causing numerous craters, though runways are not significantly damaged.  Many of the high explosive bombs carry delayed action fuzes. Large numbers of incendiary bombs are dropped on the camp. Two RAF personnel are wounded.  Other bombs fall near Mqabbe and Tal Liebru.

After dark, three further aircraft patrol to the south, then cross the coast and drop bombs near Mqabba and Tal Liebru and on Ta Qali.

2333 hrs  All clear.

0047 hrs  One enemy aircraft approaches from the north and crosses the Island without dropping any bombs.

0241-0609 hrs  Four enemy aircraft drop bombs on Ghain Tuffieha, St Paul’s Bay and St Julian’s.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Douglas Leggo, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 249 Squadron; Leading Aircraftman George Bond, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Lance-Corporal John Patt, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers; Fusilier Harold (Joseph) Russell, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers; Fusilier Edward Thompson, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Alessandro Camilleri, age 50; Salvo Gatt, age 49; Ganni Portelli, age 55; Emmanuele Vassallo, age 47.  Birkirkara  Anthony Gatt, age 12.  Hamrun  Carmelo Camilleri, age 11; Guisa Cuschieri, age 3; Francis Farrugia, age 13.  Lija  Salvu Mallia, age 45.  Marsaxlokk  Nardu Caruana, age 56.  Mosta  Salvu Dimech, age 70; Giovanna Frendo, age 75; Pietro Micallef, age 45; Rita Micallef, age 24; Duminka Micallef, age 18.  Naxxar  Zaru Grech, age 30; Joseph Sciberras, age 18.  Pieta  Lewis Camilleri, age 44. St Julian’s  Joseph Debono, age 45. Valletta  Margherita Buttigieg, age 44.  Zejtun  Salvu Spiteri, age 30.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 20 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Olympus arrived from Gibraltar with passengers and petrol.  Three Albacores dropped two torpedoes aimed at one light cruiser and one merchant vessel, 2000 tons, escorted by one destroyer.  Result unobserved.  0800 hrs – convoy MW10 sailed from Alexandria.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Beaufighters, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Five Blenheims, four Beauforts , one Hudson from 108 MU; one Wellington from Shalufa.

HAL FAR  PM  Three Albacores 828 Squadron were despatched on a shipping search.  0415 hrs  A Convoy of one 2000 ton merchant vessel, one light cruiser, one destroyer position 190 degrees Messina 23 miles course 200 degrees, speed 10 knots.  Two torpedoes were aimed, one at the cruiser and one at the merchant vessel.  Aircraft had to take avoiding action due to flak.  Strikes not observed.

LUQA 1140-1710 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance Trapani, Palermo and Cagliari Harbours; Elman aerodrome and vis. of Pantelleria.

TA QALI  Severest raids on aerodrome ever had.  Large numbers of incendiary bombs.  All officers proceeded to Camp immediately after first raid, to assist under direction of CO.  Army contacted: immediate repair of aerodrome arranged.  Lessons learned:  underground alternative accommodation should have been provided months ago, both for aircraft and personnel.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Heavy raid by Luftwaffe on Ta Qali.  Battalions of this Brigade provided working parties for filling up craters on the aerodrome.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1800 hrs  This unit takes over the Observation Post at Tal Virtu. 

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Extremely heavy raid by Luftwaffe on Ta Qali aerodrome.  Battalion supplied working party for filling up bomb craters on the aerodrome.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 16-20 March 35 (average 7 per day).

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

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Posted by on March 20, 2017 in 1942, March 1942

 

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18 March 1942: Three Hour Battle Over Malta – Blow by Blow Account

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  • 12 raids in 16½ hours
  • Aerodromes main target
  • Gozo passenger boat machine-gunned
  • Fighters prowl Malta’s coasts

‘Buck’ McNair (Canadian Aces)(1)

MALTA ADOPTS BATTLE OF BRITAIN TACTICS

“The Malta pilots quickly adapted Battle of Britain tactics to their situation under the tutelage of SL Turner. What Spitfires that could get airborne would try to attack the escorts first while the Hurricanes would come in just behind them and try to get at the bombers. This didn’t often work out, due to the overabundance of 109s in the air. However, on March 18 Buck damaged a Bf-109, and the next day he shot one down in flames.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 MARCH TO DAWN 19 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind south west; no cloud.

0727-0845 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by sixteen ME 109s drops bombs in the sea west of Anchor Bay, on land near Torri L’Abjad and near Miziep Pumping Station.  Four ME 109s peel off and machine-gun Marfa Beach, firing on the Gozo ferry boat disembarking at Marfa Jetty and injuring three passengers. ME 109s go on to carry out low-flying patrols around the coast.

0855-1216 hrs  Six ME 109s circle the Island, three patrol off the south east coast and three ME 109s patrol off Delimara.  Four ME 109s patrol to the south of the Island and two in the north.  Malta’s fighters engage.

1230-1308 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are  airborne to escort a Maryland south.  While still trying to locate it they see two of the patrolling ME 109s, five miles south of Delimara.  They attack: W/Cdr Turner damages one; P/O McNair damages one.

1326-1400 hrs  ME 109s patrol off the coast and to the north of the Island.

1430 hrs  Five Hurricanes 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept an incoming formation of one JU 88 and twelve ME 109s.

1447 hrs  The Hurricanes attack and together damage a JU 88.  P/O Lester is shot up by a ME 109 and wounded.

1645 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron, four Hurricanes 126 Squadron and seven 185 Squadron are airborne to intercept 24 JU 88 bombers in a series of formations, each with fighter escort.

1650 hrs  The four Spitfires are jumped by four ME 109s. One ME shoots down P/O Fox who bales out over the sea.  F/Lt McQueen attacks the ME and sees that go down into the sea.  P/O Sergeant attacks another ME, observing large pieces falling off.  P/O Lee attacks a JU 88, seeing strikes on the fuselage and black smoke from the port engine.

The Hurricanes close to within sight of the attacks.  F/Sgt Fletcher and F/Lt Stone see hits on the same JU 88 attacked by P/O Lee.

1711 hrs  Air raid on Hal Far.  Five JU 88s drop fifteen high explosive (HE) bombs, including three 1000kg.  Eight fall on the airfield.

1715 hrs  225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) engage three JU 88s: one hit claimed.

1717 hrs  Three JU 88s drop 14 HE bombs including three 1000kg on Safi strip, and on Hal Far, damaging one Albacore, demolishing a hangar and leaving craters on the aerodrome.

1725 hrs  One gun of 225 LAA engages a JU 88: no claim. 

1725 hrs  One 1000kg bomb falls on Bubaqra village, damaging headquarters of A Company, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt and injuring the storeman.  An unexploded 500kg bomb is discovered 50 yards away.  B Company reports one fighter in the sea near Filfla.

1730 hrs  One gun of 225 LAA engages one JU 88: no claim.

1735 hrs  Guns of 225 LAA engage one JU 88: two guns claim one hit each.  One of the gun positions is hit:  billets are damaged and rendered unserviceable.  Personnel have to be accommodated temporarily in tents.

1735 hrs  Three JU 88s drop bombs on Misrah Blandun area.

1755 hrs  Four bombs explode between the headquarters of B and D Companies, 3 Bn Kings Own Malta Regt (KOMR).  One 1000kg bomb is reported near RAF posts at Ghar Lapsi.  An unexploded bomb is reported at position 424193.

1755 hrs  Fighter aircraft return to Ta Qali but Sgt Mulloy and P/O Lester are reported missing.

1810 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron airborne to escort the High Speed Launch in a search for P/O Lester.

1830 hrs  Seven JU 88s raid Ta Qali, dropping 45 high explosive bombs.  24 hit target, setting fire to and destroying two Hurricanes, one bowser and one tractor.  Bombs fall on the runway and the aerodrome is unserviceable for a short time.  One Hurricane and one Spitfire are slightly damaged.  LAC Parker is admitted to No 90 General Hospital with severe shock.

Several bombs fall around the camp of 8th Bn Kings Own Royal Regt and on Qrendi strip.  One bomb explodes close to the HQ building. The guard commander is affected by bomb blast and taken to hospital suffering from concussion.

1845 hrs  Four JU 88s drop HE bombs on Luqa airfield.

1900 hrs  P/O Sergeant 249 Squadron attacks a ME 109 with several bursts: the aircraft dives steeply towards the sea, emitting white smoke.

1909 hrs  Raiders passed.

1955 hrs  An observer of 3rd Bn KOMR at Ghar Lapsi sights a bomber in the sea West of Filfla, one fighter south east of Filfla and another fighter south of Filfla.

P/O Lester is rescued by the High Speed Launch.

2235-2300 hrs  One enemy aircraft crosses the coast near St George’s and drops bombs on Birkirkara and Tal Qroqq.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2355-0127 hrs  Eight single aircraft approach from the north.  Four cross the coast and bomb searchlight positions at Tal Balal and Mellieha, and in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack engage; one night fighter is airborne.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Arthur Delehaunt, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR), 69 Squadron; Sergeant William Anderson, Royal Australian Air Force; Pilot Officer Harold Fox, Royal Air Force VR, 249 Squadron; Sergeant Robert Grimley, Royal Australian Air Force; Sergeant George Mulloy, Royal Air Force VR, 126 Squadron; Sergeant Graham Parker, Royal Australian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  St Paul’s Bay  Carmela Muscat, age 72; Francis Muscat, age 14.

Enemy casualties  Leutnant Kurt Lauinger, III/JG 53, Pilot of Messerschmitt Bf 109, shot down, picked up from the sea and taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 18 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Two Swordfish and two Albacores on shipping search without result.  One Swordfish crashed on landing; crew unhurt.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Blenheims from Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  AM  Two Swordfish and four Albacores of 828 and 830 Squadron on shipping search.  Two merchant vessels and two destroyers sighted 180 degrees Lampedusa 45 miles, course north, 15 knots.  One hit scored.

LUQA  0825-1256 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron special search for shipping: relocation of convoy and traffic moving east from Tripoli.  1434 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron despatched on reconnaissance of Marittimo-Kerkennah.  Sgt Parker fails to return.  One Maryland on reconnaissance Marittimo-Kerkennah failed to return: believed shot down by enemy fighters off Filfla.  Crew: Sgts Parker, Delehaunt, Grimley and Anderson airborne 1434 hrs.

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  One man A Company Kings Own Malta Regiment slightly injured by [1000kg bomb] in Bubaqra village; one Other Rank slightly injured by bomb blast.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working party two Officers and 100 Other Ranks at Luqa.  1400 hrs  30 Other Ranks final parachute practice on Marsa Range. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 16-20 March 35 (average 7 per day).

(1) Profile of Robert Wendell ‘Buck’ McNair from Canadian Aces (Miles Constable)

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Posted by on March 18, 2017 in 1942, March 1942

 

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17 March 1942: 30 Civilians Killed by Heavy Bombs Across Malta

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  • Air raids back to full force

    Heinkel He 111

  • 79000 kg high explosive bombs dropped across Island
  • Indiscriminate night bombing hits civilian areas
  • 30 civilian casualties including two policemen
  • Heavier enemy fighter escorts – 40 protect a single raid
  • Heinkel III appears over Malta
  • Malta’s Ack Ack and fighters score hits on enemy aircraft
  • One Spitfire crashes
  • Aircraft destroyed on the ground

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 MARCH TO DAWN 18 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind westerly.  70% cloud at 500 feet.

0700 hrs  Four Hurricanes of 605 Squadron, Hal Far, are scrambled to intercept five JU 88s with an escort of ME 109s.  F/L Stone and P/O Noble make a head on attack on one JU 88: results not observed.  P/O Beckett engages a ME 109: no visible results.

0715 hrs  Six Spitfires of 249 Squadron are airborne and locate an incoming formation of JU 88s and Messerschmitts.  The Spitfires split into pairs.  Sgt Brenman scores cannon strikes on one Messerchmitt which goes down.  He then fires at a second ME but sees no results.  F/Lt Heppell has a short squirt at one ME 109 and sees a puff of black smoke as it climbs away.

0737 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six JU 88s escorted by ME 109s drop bombs on Luqa and the Grand Harbour area.  Malta’s fighters are up and engage.

0800 hrs  Six JU 88s drop bombs on Luqa aerodrome.  One bowser and two Wellingtons are burned out.  Three out of service Wellingtons are further damaged; one is written off. One Spitfire and one Mosquito of the Photo-Reconnaissance Unit are damaged.  One previously unserviceable Beaufighter is badly damaged.

0840 hrs  Seven Hurricanes of 126 Squadron from Hal Far join the fight, spotting five JU 88s and ten Messerchmitts.  S/Lt Wells scores strikes on one Junkers and P/O McHan fires machine gun bullets into the same aircraft.  Sgt Hale attacks another JU and sees smoke pouring from the starboard engine, believed to be glycol.  F/Lt Kemp attacks a ME 109 and sees bits fall from the starboard wing: the ME goes down into cloud.  Sgt Mulloy attacks a JU 88 and sees strikes under the starboard wing root.  He also claims strikes on a 2nd Junkers, along the tail end of the fuselage.

1000 hrs  JU 88s escorted by ME 109s drop bombs on Luqa and the Safi strip, and on the submarine base.

1025 hrs  One JU 88 is engaged by 225 Light Ack Ack Battery at 4-6000 feet: no claims.

1030 hrs  Four Spitfires are airborne.  Sighting a large formation of Messerschmitt fighters, the Spitfires dive away.  F/Sgt Cormack does not pull out of his dive and his machine heads straight towards Filfla: cause unknown.

1045 hrs  Five JU 88s drop bombs on Luqa aerodrome.

1050 hrs  The remaining Spitfires land safely.

1115 hrs  All clear.

1200-1355 hrs  Bombs are dropped on the Safi strip and Luqa, and in the sea off Delimara.

1310 hrs  Four JU 88s drop bombs in the Zurrieq area and on Safi strip. One JU 88 is engaged by two gun positions of 225 LAA at 5-6000 feet: no claims.

1407 hrs  Four JU 88s and one Heinkel 111 escorted by fighters approach the Island  Four Hurricanes of 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept the enemy aircraft.  Sgt Steele and Sgt Broad engage one JU 88: no visible results.  The raiders drop bombs to the west of Luqa and Ta Qali.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1415 hrs  Three Hurricanes 126 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali and three Spitfires of 249 Squadron from Luqa.  They chase and damage the Heinkel.  A second wave of six JU 88s escorted by ME 109s drop twelve bombs on Ta Qali, damaging one Hurricane. Two civilians are killed, two are admitted to hospital and two have minor injuries.  Ack Ack engage and damage one JU 88.

1425 hrs  Two JU 88s drop bombs in the Mqabba area and near Loreto Church.

1445 hrs  The Spitfires and Hurricanes land safely.

1500 hrs  One Hurricane at Ta Qali is damaged by a delayed action bomb dropped at 1415 hrs.  One civilian is injured and taken to hospital.

1600 hrs  Five Hurricanes of 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept a formation of JU 88s.  Sgt Steele and Sgt Sutherland attack one JU, hitting the fuselage and engines.  Sgt Sutherland engages a ME 109, scoring hits between the engine and cockpit.

1619 hrs  A six-wave attack of bombers protected by a large fighter force.  The first wave of six JU 88 drops bombs on Sliema, Tigne and Marsaxmett Harbour.

One JU 88 drops bombs on Kirkop and Qrendi.

Three JU 88s drop bombs on Safi and to the north of Luqa.

One aircraft recedes from south to north at 18000 feet.

Six JU 88s drops bomb on the Qrendi strip and in the sea.

Six JU 88s drops bombs on Ta Qali, Luqa and Hal Far.   Malta’s fighters are up and damage one HE 111, one JU 88 and two ME 109s.  Light Ack Ack destroy one JU 88 and damage another.

1725 hrs  Three JU 88s drop bombs on the Safi strip. Three out of service Wellingtons are further damaged and written off.  Guns of 225 LAA Battery engage two JU 88s and one ME 109 at 4-5000 feet: no claims.

1830 hrs  Two Hurricanes 126 Squadron take off from Hal Far with five other Hurricanes of 185 Squadron to intercept an incoming formation.  The two Hurricanes of 126 chase a JU 88 which is last seen diving steeply into the sea.

1836 hrs  Four JU 88s drop bombs on the Safi strip and Misrah Blandun.

1840 hrs  Two Spitfires of 249 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa and patrol behind the Hurricanes.  Two ME 109s are spotted.  S/L Grant damages one with cannon shells and P/O Plagis attacks the other, observing pieces fall from the aircraft.

1842 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage two JU 88s at 3-4000 feet: three gun positions claim five hits in total.

1846 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage one JU 88 at 3-4000 feet.  All guns claim hits; two confirmed on the fuselage and starboard wing of one aircraft.  Gunners collect fallen fragments of fuselage and a rubber dinghy.  The plane recedes south apparently badly damaged.

1920 hrs  All clear.

2007 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, is barraged over Grand Harbour and drops its bomb load in the sea.

2044 hrs  Three aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs in the sea to the east of Mellieha.

2200 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs on Pembroke Ranges, on Naxxar and in the sea.

2235 hrs  One aircraft drops bombs in the Rabat area.

2332-0100 hrs  Seven aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs on the Rabat and Rocco areas, and in the sea.

0156 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north and drop bombs on St Georges and in the sea.

0340 hrs  Three aircraft drop bombs in the sea west of Gozo and another drops bombs to the south of Latnia.

0517 hrs   Seven aircraft approach the Island: one drops bombs near San Rocco fort, the remainder in the sea.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Ian Cormack Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 249 Squadron.  Gunner Carmel Darmanin, 1 Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Alfred Calleja, age 35.  Hamrun  George Debono, age 43.  Lija  Charles Lanzon, age 36.  Paola  Giuseppe Delia, age 60; Joseph Delia, age 4; George Gauci, age 80.  Qormi  Carmelo Aquilina, age 77.  Rabat  Francis Mallia, Ena Mallia Pulvirenti, age 12; Salvu Portelli, age 37; Andrew Spiteri, age 11; Samuel Vassallo, age 25.  Siggiewi  Carmelo Baldacchino, age 44.  Sliema  Eddie Bartolo, age 38; Joseph Bartolo, age 38; Alfred Calapai, age 54; Antonio Fava, age 20; Paul Formosa, age 50; Giuseppa Micallef, age 54; Joseph Micallef, age 11; Joseph Mifsud, age 66; Albert Mifsud, age 14; Anthony Pisani, age 38; Carmela Sghendo, age 15; Francis Spiteri, age 14; Alfred Vella, age 45.  Valletta  Muriel Brocklebank, age 47.  Zebbug  Giuseppe Petroni, age 29.  Zejtun  Joseph Mercieca, age 45.  Zurrieq  Ursola Schembri, age 58.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 17 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  MLs 126 and 130 arrived from Gibraltar.  Five Albacores left to attack convoy sighted earlier but failed to find.  Three Swordfish attacked one merchant vessel of 2000 tons east of Tripoli.  One torpedo was dropped and left ship ablaze from stem to stern.  Two Swordfish and four Albacores sighted and attacked two merchant vessels and two destroyers in Lampedusa area.  Two torpedoes dropped and one hit on a 7000 ton merchant vessel is claimed.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson, one Wellington from Gibraltar.  Departures  Four Spitfires to 108 MU.

HAL FAR  Five Albacores 828 Squadron dispatched to attack convoy – nothing sighted.  Three Swordfish 830 Squadron on shipping search.  They attacked one merchant vessel (position east Tripoli 25 miles, 10 miles from shore).  A hit was scored: merchant vessel left ablaze from stem to stern.  One Swordfish – S/L Shute, Mid. Hillery – missing.

LUQA  0712-1300 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron special search south and east of Malta for enemy shipping.  1534-1940 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron special search for enemy shipping.

TA QALI  Signal 0831 HQ:  Identity of 242 and 605 Squadrons cease to exist as such on Malta with effect from 15 March 1942.  Pilots being absorbed with existing fighter squadrons at Ta Qali and Hal Far.  Night operations: no interceptions.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  B Company on exercise Corrodino area; normal work for other Companies.  1400 hrs A Company cross-country run.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  St Patrick’s Day parade of Battalion at San Pawl Tat Targe.  Shamrock presented by GOC.  March to Naxxar for church parade and sermon by Rev Navin.  Dinner in evening attended by Brigadier L/Col Iggleden, L/Col Brittorous.  Men entertained by concert party.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 16-20 March 35 (average 7 per day).

 

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14 March 1942: Malta’s Artillery ‘Tommy’s Best’ Says Germany

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40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun and crew (c) IWM GM744

EXTRACT FROM TODAY’S ‘GERMAN HOME NEWS’             

“Malta’s Anti-Aircraft artillery must be counted among Tommy’s very best, and plays the greatest part in the defence of the Island.”

NIGHT RAIDING TACTICS CHANGED

Enemy tactics changed overnight: instead of the usual single raider, monitors report that aircraft are approaching Malta in twos and threes.  Searchlights revealed the raiders as Italian BR 20 Cicogna (stork) aircraft.  Heavy Ack Ack were active and one Beaufighter was airborne on night operations.  Although there were no engagements, the enemy aircraft did not cross the coast and dropped all their bombs in the sea.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 MARCH TO DAWN 15 MARCH 1942

Weather   Wind slight; hazy.

0719 hrs  Two ME 109s patrol to the south.

0935 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by Messerschmitts carries out reconnaissance from east to west.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and destroy one ME 109, also probably one bomber.

Two ME 109s search to the south west of Gozo where one ME crashed previously.

1020 hrs  Four Spitfires are scrambled from Luqa and attack three ME 109s.

1022 hrs  All clear.

1035 hrs  Three JU 88s with fighter escort drop 42 high explosive bombs on Hal Far, causing several craters on the aerodrome.  One Hurricane is burned out, one needs major repairs and another two minor repairs.  One motor transport trailer is blown up and one tractor destroyed.  Malta’s fighters engage ME 109s.  Heavy Ack Ack also engage.  During the raid one ME 109 continues a search to the west of Gozo.

1115 hrs   Spitfire pilot F/Lt McQueen engages an ME 109 and sees strikes on the fuselage: claims destroyed.

1306 hrs  All clear.

1316-1537 hrs  One triple-engined flying boat escorted by three ME 109s carries out rescue work to the west of Gozo.   (See Luftwaffe flying boat rescue: CLICK HERE > 1 min 50 sec)

1410 hrs  Two Spitfires of 249 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali.  Pilots F/Lt Lucas and P/O Daddo-Langlois attack two Messerschmitts, damaging one.  They are then chased by another formation of Messerschmitt fighters.

1552 hrs  Enemy aircraft continue to patrol to the west of Gozo.  F/Lt Lucas and P/O Daddo-Langlois are airborne again to escort a departing Maryland setting off on patrol.

1615 hrs  On his return F/Lt Lucas attacks and damages one ME 109.

1733 hrs  All clear.

1800-1847 hrs  Two enemy flying boats escorted by fighters continue rescue work west of Gozo.  Malta’s fighters are airborne: no engagement.

1852-1915 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

2046-2130 hrs  Three enemy aircraft approach but do not cross the coast, dropping bombs in the sea.

2242-0155 hrs  Two aircraft approach, dropping bombs south of Anchor Bay and in the sea.

0237-0244 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

Military casualties  Gunner Michael Madden, 4th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Floriana  Francis Pulo, age 62. Zurrieq  Kalanc Zerafa, age 47.

Enemy casualties   Heinrich Blum, III/JG3, pilot of a Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter: died when his plane collided with the Bf 109 fighter of Leutnant Walter Seiz.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 14 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Urge returned to harbour with a defective generator.  Xmas out searching various positions Hurd Bank.  Two Swordfish left to attack one merchant vessel and one destroyer to westward but returned with engine trouble.  Five Albacores carried out a shipping search without result.

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Wellingtons, one Hudson, one Flamingo to 108 MU; one Beaufighter to Heliopolis.

HAL FAR PM  Two Swordfish 830 Squadron despatched to search for and attack enemy shipping.  Returned early due to engine trouble: nothing sighted.  Five Albacores despatched on search and strikes on enemy shipping.  Two aircraft returned early due to engine trouble.  Remainder made a thorough search of area indicated and confirmed no shipping in locality.

LUQA  0805-1210hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron carried out SF 5 patrol.  0940-1115 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) 69 Squadron carried out PR of Comiso, Gala and Biscari aerodromes.  1550-1930 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron carried out SF 4 patrol.

TA QALI  Flight Lieutenant (Acting Squadron Leader) P S Turner promoted to the Acting Rank of Wing Commander.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Battalion drill parade: A & C Coys on Floriana Parade Ground; B & D at Dockyard School.  58 enemy planes over the Island during the morning.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Mostly rescue work. 

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

 

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9 March 1942: Germany boasts “Malta under a hail of bombs day and night”

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94 ENEMY AIRCRAFT DROP BOMBS ON MALTA

German radio today broadcast the claim: “the Island Fortress of Malta is under a hail of bombs by day and night” as raids continue round the clock.  Luqa received another pounding today with damage to aircraft and runways but the enemy did not escape without losses. Malta’s fighters went on the counter attack, destroying at least three aircraft and damaging ten.  The Island’s anti-aircraft guns also claimed at least one aircraft destroyed and two damaged.

German bombs marked “Iron Greetings for Malta” (NWMA Malta)

LUFTWAFFE BOMBS DURING DAYLIGHT 9 MARCH 1942

  • 1000kg ‘Herman’              19
  • 500kg                              67
  • 250kg                              58
  • 50kg                              163

TOTAL                                307    Weight: 75150 kg

WARNING TO INFANTRY: DO NOT REMOVE BOMB FRAGMENTS

“Fragments of exploded bombs and tail fins often provide important evidence.  Cases have recently occurred where this evidence has been denied to the Bomb Disposal Officer because the pieces have been taken away as souvenirs.  It is the duty of all ranks to report immediately any fragments of exploded bombs and to report anyone seen taking away such pieces.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 MARCH TO DAWN 10 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind south west; cloudy.

0750 hrs  Seven Hurricanes are scrambled from Ta Qali.  Wing Commander Rabagliati leads 242 Squadron to escort Blenheims leaving the Island,

0825 hrs  Five JU 88s drop twenty-two High Explosive bombs on theSafi strip.  Two aircraft are set on fire.

0845 hrs  One ME 109 with a yellow edge and red spinner is seen by 242 Squadron and attacked but it continues to shadow the Blenheim formation.

0858 hrs  Fourteen ME 109s and six JU 88s cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa and Safi.

0918 hrs  Three JU 88s drop bombs on Safi, destroying one Wellington on the ground.  Three JU 88s drop bombs south west of Loreto Church and south west of Gudja village.  Three soldiers are wounded.

0925 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA Bty) engage three JU 88s at 3-5000 feet: 13 hits claimed.

0927 hrs  Three ME 109s drop bombs on the Safi strip.

0945 hrs Three JU 88s and eight ME 109s cross the coast and drop bombs on Hal Far.  L/Cpl Creek of C Company 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt receives a slight shrapnel wound.  Hurricanes destroy one JU 88 and one ME 109, damage two ME 109s and seven JU 88s.  Seven ME 109s and four JU 88s are also attacked.  One Hurricane pilot, Sgt Finlay, is slightly injured.

1000 hrs  Gunners of 225 (LAA Bty) engage three JU 88s engaged at 3-5000 feet; no claims.

1020 hrs  All clear.

1040 hrs  Eight Hurricanes from are scrambled from Ta Qali and intercept an incoming raid of three JU 88s and nine ME 109s.

1055 hrs  JU 88s drop bombs between Gudja and Luqa and one bomb in near HQ of 4th Bn Hampshire Regiment.

1120 hrs  The Hurricanes engage the enemy aircraft at a point 20 miles east of Delimara and attack.  One JU 88 is damaged and Wing Commander Rabagliati destroys one ME 109.

1221 hrs  Twelve JU 88s attack Luqa, dropping heavy High Explosive bombs and causing craters on the Safi strip.

1227 hrs  Bombs are dropped at south end of Safi strip: four fires are seen in the dispersal area.

1255-1315 hrs  Four JU 88s drop bombs on the Safi strip.  Four Wellingtons are damaged; three burned out.

1324 hrs  Bombs dropped on Safi strip.

1405 hrs  Three JU 88s drop bombs north of Safi strip.  One 1000kg bomb lands to the south west of Gudja.

1408 hrs  Guns of 225 (LAA Bty) engage two JU 88s at 6-8000 feet: no claim.

1500 hrs  Six Hurricanes of 126 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali.

1515 hrs  225 LAA Bty engage six JU 88s at 4000 feet and one ME 109 at 100 feet.  Fifteen hits are claimed: five of the JU 88s claimed as damaged.

1520 hrs  Six JU 88s with fighter escort drop two 1000kg bombs each on Safi strip.  One Maryland is set on fire.

1520 hrs  Hurricanes of 126 Squadron intercept three JU 88s and six ME 109s off the Island of Filfla, as the enemy are going away from Hal Far.  F/O West damages two JUs.  P/O Hallett destroys one ME 109.  F/O Anderson causes an explosion in a JU and leaves it descending steeply: later confirmed destroyed.  S/L Norris damages a JU causing the engine to emit black smoke.  American P/O Howard Coffin is attacked by an ME and is forced to crash land close to a searchlight position near Gudja, suffering some head injuries: he survives.

1551 hrs  All clear.

1615 hrs  Enemy aircraft come in four waves, each wave dropping bombs onSafi and Luqa.  The first wave is engaged by Heavy Ack Ack.  One JU 88 is destroyed and crashes on Hal Far; one ME 109 is damaged.  An unexploded bomb is reported at Bir-id-Deheb: traffic is diverted and the RE Bomb Disposal squad informed.

1712 hrs  Three JU 88s at 5000 feet are engaged by Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1740 hrs  Five JU 88s diving on Hal Far are engaged by 225 LAA Bty. Two guns obtain a direct hit on one JU 88 which catches fire and crashes into the ground.  Two enemy airmen bale out and are taken prisoner by RAF personnel.  Two of the remaining aircraft are claimed as damaged.

1840 hrs  Three JU 88s drop bombs on the Ta Liebru area and from 469195 to 468202.  225 LAA Bty engage the JU 88s at 4-5000 feet: four hits claimed on each plane.

1842 hrs  All Clear.

1940-2020 hrs  One enemy aircraft crosses theIsland from north to south: believed to be a rescue plane.

Night 9/10th  Continuous air raid throughout the night: bombs in many areas.  Heavy Ack Ack and searchlights are active but night fighters do not engage.

2037-0615 hrs  Nineteen aircraft approach the Island from the north and drop 200 High Explosive bombs on Luqa, Grand Harbour, Qrendi, Wardia, Ghain Tuffieha, Delimara, St Thomas’ Bay, Latnia and in the sea at Kalafrana.  Searchlights operational and Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0200 hrs  Bombs are dropped near Ta Sinia Tower.

0250 hrs  One bomb lands in Kirkop area.

0335 hrs  Four bombs are dropped in the Mqabba area.

0615 hrs  Bombs land near Fort Ta Silch.

0626 hrs  A delayed action bomb explodes on Safi strip.

0800 hrs  A delayed action bomb explodes on Safi strip.

Military casualties  Sergeant Ronald McGregor Herman, Royal Australian Air Force; Private William Jones, 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Qormi  Dolores Agius, age 6; Concetta Briffa, age 53; George Ellul, age 17.

Enemy casualties  Oberleutnant Gerhard Becker, 6/KG 77, pilot of a JU 88 bomber shot down by Anti Aircraft fire early evening; also Unteroffizier Anton Schweiger, Air Gunner, who baled out into the sea but died; Unteroffizier Arnulf Thiemann, Observer was found unconscious and taken to hospital but did not recover; Unteroffiziere Walter Kunzi, Wireless Operator baled out and was found unconscious but survived, and was taken prisoner.  Leutnant Herbert Muller, 1/KG 54, Pilot of a JU 88 bomber, plus crew Obergefreiter Heinrich Meier, Obergefreiter Kurt Schrey and Obergefreiter Erich Wulf.

HMS Porpoise

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 9 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Porpoise arrived from Alexandria with passengers and petrol.  2000 hrs Cleopatra, Penelope and Kingston sailed to intercept enemy convoy.  Three Swordfish and three Albacores attacked an 8000 ton merchant vessel, escorted by three destroyers, in the vicinity of Pantelleria.  Two torpedoes were dropped and the merchant vessel was probably hit.  One Albacore crashed on landing.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance unit.  Departures  Three Blenheims, one Wellington to 108 MU; one Beaufighter to Marsa Matruh.

LUQA  1030-1435 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron carries out a special search.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT Several alerts during the day; little damage to buildings.  Bombs on Luqa: Private Jones, C Company, killed, and Private Smithson, D Company, seriously injured.  Gas masks worn 1000-1100 hrs.  30 Other Ranks C & D Coys fired on Parachute Range at Marsa.  6 Platoon A Company night firing on Pembroke Range.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  L/Cpl Creek, C Company, slightly injured by shrapnel at Hal Far.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  CO carried out reconnaissance of the Victoria Lines.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT During the night bombs are dropped 300 yards north of Battalion HQ.  No damage.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Almost continuous dogfights and Ack Ack.  Luqa working party sustained minor casualties.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  Outcome of raids resulted in slight damage to equipment at one gun position, C Troop HQ is damaged, one caravan badly damaged and one billet rendered unsafe.  One unexploded 500kg bomb is discovered 20 yards from a gun position which is evacuated after removal of the gun barrel, auto-loader etc to a place of safety.  The UXB is reported to the RE Bomb Disposal Section.  The BD Officer deals with the bomb and declares the area safe by 1100 hrs next morning.

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

(1) UXB Malta – Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal 1940-44, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010/2012

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7 March 1942: First 15 Spitfires Arrive – Doubling Malta’s Air Force

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SPITFIRES 700 MILE FLIGHT TO MALTA

Spitfires over Malta (1)

At 0700 hours this morning the aircraft carrier Eagle made rendezvous with Blenheim aircraft out of Sicily to the south of Majorca.  At the agreed signal, Eagle manoeuvred into position, ready for the first of fifteen Spitfires to take off from her flight deck and begin the flight to Malta.  After the disappointment of the aborted first delivery mission in February the Spitfires, accompanied by seven Blenheims from Gibraltar, had a relatively uneventful 700 mile flight to Malta.

The sound of approaching aircraft without the usual air raid warning caused some alarm along the flight path to Ta Qali – until the first planes were identified as familiar Hurricanes and Blenheims – and then among them long-awaited Spitfires.  At their Observation Post, personnel of 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers were pleased to report the incoming friendly flight instead of yet another daylight bombing raid.

With only 14 Hurricanes currently serviceable on the Island, the 15 new Spitfires – the first to be based outside the British Isles – will more than double Malta’s defensive air force.   The aircraft credited with winning the Battle of Britain are seen as essential to Malta’s survival against the Luftwaffe.

MAIL ARRIVES VIA SUPPLY SUB

HM Submarine Thunderbolt arrives in Malta today carrying a mail delivery with her cargo.  16000 gallons of kerosene and ten torpedoes are among the supplies to be unloaded before she sails immediately for Gibraltar.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 MARCH TO DAWN 8 MARCH 1942

Weather   Wind southerly.  Clear sky but hazy.

0740-0812 hrs  Eight ME 109s on patrol; do not cross the coast.

1031-1101 hrs  Three Me 109s on patrol; Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1116-1322 hrs  Fifteen aircraft, believed to be ME 109s on patrol, cross the coast twice and are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack.

1353-1415 hrs  Twelve Me 109s on patrol; Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1515 hrs  Four Hurricanes are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept a formation of JU 88s with fighter escort.  F/Lt Lloyd fires a burst at one ME 109 without observed results.

1521 hrs  Three JU 88s bomb Luqa causing casualties and damage to Heavy Ack Ack position at Ta Karach.  Eight Gunners are killed, five more seriously wounded and three slightly wounded.

1830 hrs  Four ME 109s drop 250kg bombs on Gudia, demolishing one house.  Four 50kg bombs land astride the wall of Xleili Tower and two bombs drop near Kirkop.

1911-0642 hrs  Enemy aircraft keep up continuous raider policy dropping bombs across a wide area.  One house is destroyed.  Two Hurricanes are slightly damaged by bombs at Hal Far.  Wellingtons and Beaufighters are damaged at Luqa.  Hurricanes are airborne and Ack Ack engage: no claims.

Military casualties  Lance Sergeant (L/Sgt) John Ingram, L/Sgt Jack Wood, Gunners Edward Ashard, Ernest Clark, Richard James, Thomas O’Bryan and Walter Whitter, all 4th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Alfred Hall, 5th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Balzan  Melita Brincat, age 50

OPERATIONS REPORTS: 7 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Thunderbolt arrived from Alexandria with personnel, stores and kerosene, and sailed pm for Gibraltar and thence for refit in the United Kingdom.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Fifteen Spitfires, seven Blenheims from Gibraltar; five Beaufighters from LG 10.  Departures  Four Wellingtons to 108 MU; three Wellingtons to LG 224.

LUQA 1035-1225 hrs  One Beaufighter 69 Squadron carried out photo-reconnaissance off Tripoli.  1230-2006 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron on Just 1 patrol.  2144-0422 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight carried out special search.  2325-0417 hrs  Three Wellingtons 37 Squadron minelaying and diversion raids Tripoli Harbour.

TA QALI  SHQ removed to and commenced work in the old Armoury Building.  Slit trenches dug.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT 1015 hrs  Battalion Ceremonial Parade held on Floriana Parade Ground: 21 Officers and 275 Other Ranks.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Bn football team vs 8 Manchester: won 3-0.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT GOC’s inspection of Battalion transport and contents of trucks.

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

(1) http://www.constable.ca/caah/kennedy.htm

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Posted by on March 7, 2017 in 1942, March 1942

 

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