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22 April 1942: ‘Malta’s Darkest Hour’ – Only 7 Spitfires Fit to Fly

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‘MALTA’S DARKEST HOUR’ – SPITFIRE PILOT BUCK MCNAIR

‘Buck’ McNair (Canadian Aces)(1)

“Within an hour of landing the radar plotters showed the Luftwaffe were up and leaving their bases in Sicily. It took three hours to get all of the Spitfires refuelled, and rearmed due to the excessive security. Also, despite assurances the cannons had not been air-tested in England and had to be set-up and there was a problem with faulty ammunition. All of the regular hands took off in what new Spits were ready and were into the first of a series of heavy raids intended to destroy as many of the new fighters on the ground as possible. The Germans were quite successful. Forty-eight hours later only seven of the forty-six Spitfires remained fit to fly. The old hands could only look at each other. It was Malta‘s darkest hour.”  Robert Wendell “Buck” McNair (1)

AIRMEN FIRE ON ENEMY RAIDERS FROM THE GROUND

Airmen are encouraged to fire rifles from slit trenches at low-flying enemy aircraft.  Many rifle brigades are formed and the morale of airmen considerably improved.  During raids 21st and 22nd April from the machine-gun site on top of the caves:  W/O Satchell damaged one JU 88 and two ME 109s; S/L Westmacott damaged one JU 88 and one ME 109.   In the morning raid, W/C Satchell hit three JU 88s.  War Diary, Ta Qali, April 1942

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 APRIL TO DAWN 23 APRIL 1942

Weather  Strong south-westerly wind.  100% medium cloud.

0435-0500 hrs; 0728-0759 hrs  Air raid alert sounds for incoming aircraft: nothing transpires.

0915 hrs  36 enemy bombers with fighter escort approach the Island.  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept incoming enemy aircraft: one JU 88 probably destroyed.

0932 hrs  11 JU 88s drop bombs from a high level on Luqa near Schinas Reservoir, and on the Safi strip.  One Wellington is damaged by shrapnel.

0945 hrs  Three guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage one JU 88: hits claimed.

Seven Spitfires 249 & 603 Squadrons are airborne from Ta Qali and see 20 JU 88s heading inland over St Paul’s Bay.  They attack.  Four Spitfires return to Luqa after a few minutes.  P/O West (249) attacks a second wave of JU 88s, damaging one, and also later attacks and damages the reconnaissance aircraft.  F/Sgt Hurst destroys one ME 109.  P/O Murray does not return.  Two Spitfires crash on landing: pilots unhurt.  Total destroyed 1; damaged 2.

1000 hrs  25 JU 88s drop over 100 high explosive bombs on Ta Qali, causing craters and further damage to buildings.

1018-1120 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four ME 109 fighter-bombers attack Ta Qali.

1219 hrs  Approximately 50 enemy bombers with fighter escort approach the Island.  15 JU 88s carry out a high level bombing attack on Ta Qali and Mosta.  22 JU 87 Stukas and 12 JU 88s attack the Grand Harbour area, dropping bombs across a wide area including Valletta and Floriana, Corradino and Addolorata.  In Floriana bombs explode on the Central Civil Hospital, St Calcedonio Square and St Johns Ditch. 

1349 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

1705 hrs  Massed formations of enemy aircraft approach the Island from the North, splitting into various plots to attack Ta Qali, Luca and Safi, Hal Far and the Grand Harbour area.

1724 hrs  Six Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept incoming enemy aircraft.  P/O Jemmett is believed to have been shot down near Rabat.

Two Hurricanes from Hal Far are airborne and intercept 12 JU 88s heading for the airfield with a fighter escort of ME 109s.  P/O Wigley probably destroys one ME 109.  P/O Ormrod, DFC, is missing.

1730 hrs  Twelve JU 88s carry out a high level bomb attack on Luqa, damaging workshops and equipment stores.  One Hudson previously written off is now burned out.  Two Wellingtons and a Blenheim are damaged.  A bombing raid on Hal Far by five JU 88s partly demolishes the Torpedo Shop and damages one Hurricane.  A raid on Ta Qali by 13 JU 88s leaves further craters and buildings damaged.  The enemy concentrate on cuttings which they apparently believe are underground hangars.

1740-1750 hrs  12 JU 88s drop bombs on the Safi strip.

1740-1810 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 88s: hits claimed by five guns.  One gun claims two hits on one aircraft and flames emitted.

1750 hrs  21 JU 87s and 26 JU 88s attack Grand Harbour, including Valletta and Floriana, Kalkara and the Dockyard.  Bombs land between ADS Zabbar and the Cottonera Lines.

Bombers target several anti-aircraft guns.  Two Light Ack Ack gun positions are hit by bombs, killing five Other Ranks and wounding seven, including one seriously.  A bomb explodes close to Tal Handaq Heavy Ack Ack gun position wounding one Other Rank and putting two guns out of action.  Others land close to San Pietru gun position, setting ammunition on fire, and Gudia searchlight position wounding one Other Rank.

1800 hrs  Four ME 109 fighter bombers raid Ta Qali, demolishing the main billet at Bukana Camp.

1850 hrs  All clear.

2200 hrs  3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment at Ghar Lapsi report a boat showing a light four miles offshore.

2240-2251 hrs  The alert sounds for one aircraft which does not cross the coast.

0225 hrs  One aircraft approaches the Island and drops bombs in the sea off Torri l’Abjad.

0300-0330 hrs  One aircraft comes in from the north east and drops mines on Zonqor Point.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Frank Jemmett, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR), 601 Squadron; Pilot Officer Gordon Murray, Royal Canadian Air Force, 603 Squadron; Pilot Officer Oliver Ormrod, Royal Air Force VR, 185 Squadron; Squadron Leader Stewart Surridge, MC, Royal Air Force VR.

Private James Barrowman and Private Roy Douglass, 1st Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry.

Gunner Tom Berry, Gunner James Booth, Gunner Michael Kelly, all 223 Bty, 32 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Cecil French, Bombardier Harry Gentle, Gunner William Gilbert 182 Bty, Gunner Gilbert Nixon, Bombardier Albert Norris, all 4 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Sergeant Bernard Alliston, 276 Bty, 68 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Emmanuela Gatt, age 60. Valletta  Vincent Schembri, age 60.   Zejtun  Joseph Scicluna, age 18.  Zurrieq  Emanual Mangion, age 18.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 22 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Urge returned from uneventful patrol south of Pantellaria.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gambut; one Wellington, one Beaufort from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Wellington to 108 MU.

LUQA  0605-0650 hrs  Two Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft on interceptions: no combat. 1408-1457 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron on photo-reconnaissance east Sicilian aerodromes.  2105-0540 hrs  Six Wellingtons S/D Flight despatched to attack a convoy: bombs dropped but no results seen.  2040-0555 hrs  Twelve Wellingtons 148 Squadron are despatched in three waves to attack Comiso aerodrome.   Bombs are dropped in the dispersal area but no fires seen.

TA QALI  Two senior NCOs and 35 airmen attached from Kalafrana for temporary duties.  A salvage section is attached from Luqa.  An attachment of 48 airmen from Kalafrana is accommodated in Boschetto Gardens.  No night operations.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working parties continue as yesterday; B Company still salvaging.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Seven Other Ranks were wounded by enemy action on Ta Qali: one died same day.  One Other Rank killed by enemy action on Ta Qali.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bombs at Haywharf – Offices, Stores and Equipment destroyed, 2 engines damaged.  Bomb nr NAAFI Lintorn damaging 24Coy store and destroying depth charge – no casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 19; dealt with 17 (1 x 500kg, 3 x 250kg, 12 x 50kg; 1 x 15kg anti-personnel).

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Working parties from Battalion on aerodrome.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  2100 hrs  Luqa and Hal Far working parties continued.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  Two unexploded bombs of 250kg and 500kg are reported 400 yards south of a gun position; not evacuated.

(1)  From Canadian Air Aces and Heroes, WWI, WWII and Korea

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

 

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20 April 1942: 46 New Spitfires Bombed on the Ground

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Spitfires at Ta Qali (NWMA Malta)

NEW SPITFIRES SLOW TO GET OFF THE GROUND

“The fighter strength was reinforced on the 20th by the arrival of 46 Spitfires from UK…Prior to the above mentioned reinforcement there was a period when it was not possible to have any fighter aircraft airborne at all, due to unserviceability.  It was very noticeable that with the arrival of the fighter reinforcements, the enemy preluded his bombing attacks with fighter sweeps and maintained fighters over the Island even after the bombers had made their get-away.

During the period when the 46 Spitfires were necessarily grounded for refuellling and re-arming and brought into a fully operational condition, many were damaged on the ground by enemy action.  The inability to scramble our aircraft was due in the first place to the fact that minor details such as cannon testing were not done, and it would appear that the aircraft had come straight from the factory without being tested to see that they were fit to fly operationally.”   War Diary, Air HQ Malta, April 1942

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 APRIL TO DAWN 21 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind easterly; no cloud, fine.

0615-0635 hrs  Air alert sounds for a single aircraft: nothing transpires.

0810 hrs  63 enemy bombers plus fighter escort approach the Island from the north in several plots.

“Pampas” ablaze (NWMA Malta)

0815 hrs  30 JU 88s bomb the Grand Harbour area, including Floriana, Pieta and Marsa Creek.  In the Dockyard the Abattoir is bombed; Pampas is hit and set on fire.  A shelter in St Lawrence Street, Senglea is hit by a bomb and partly collapses, killing one person and injuring five.  Manoel Island is hit by several bombs, damaging offices and workshops, as well as the pier.

One stick of bombs falls on Hompesch 3.7″ Ack Ack Battery, wounding two Other Ranks.  The bombers are engaged by light machine gun fire from 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment.

18 of the JU88s target Pieta, Marsa and Floriana: bombs land on the Argotti Gardens, St Anne’s Street, Gunlayer Street and Square, Market Street, Magazine Street, Mall Gardens and Mall Street, St Calcedonio Street, First Street and New Street.  One person is killed and one seriously injured.

22 JU 87 Stukas and 11 JU 88s bomb Kalafrana and Hal Far.  Delimara Gun position is hit – one gun is damaged.

0830-0855 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 87s and JU 88s: hits claimed.

0935 hrs  All clear.

1000 hrs  23 Spitfires land at Ta Qali from Gibraltar.

1046-1106 hrs  Two enemy aircraft patrol to the north of the Island.

1100 hrs  23 more Spitfires are reported landed safely at Ta Qali.

1230 hrs  Over 100 enemy aircraft – JU 87s, JU 88s and ME 109s – head towards the Island in several waves and divide to attack the Grand Harbour area, Ta Qali, Luqa, Hal Far and Delimara.

23 JU 88s and 30 JU 87 Stukas attack Grand Harbour and Floriana, where bombs cause extensive damage to the Parade Ground, St Philip’s Garden, Lintorn Barracks, Kingsgate, Rundle Garden, Mall Gardens, the Granaries and Sliema Bus Terminus.

12 JU 88s raid Hal Far, damaging barrack blocks and leaving craters on the aerodrome.  One petrol bowser is destroyed.  Four JU 88s bomb Delimara point.

1250 hrs  Three Hurricanes of 185 Squadron at Hal Far engage twelve JU 88s.  P/O Noble and P/O Wigley each claim one JU 88 damaged.  Two Hurricanes 185 Squadron and two Hurricanes 229 Squadron intercept another formation of JU 88s.  F/L Lloyd and SGt Brooks each damage a JU 88; Sgt Tweedale claims two destroyed.

1250 hrs  JU 88s heading south from Grand Harbour are engaged by light machine gun fire from 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment at Hompesch: hits are claimed.

1315-1330 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 87s and JU 88s: hits claimed.

1330 hrs  Fifteen JU 88s dive bomb Luqa airfield, Safi strip and the dispersal areas.  One Maryland is damaged by a Bofors shell.  Incendiary bombs are dropped, setting the grass on fire.

1400 hrs  Another wave of enemy raiders drops bombs on Ta Qali.  Sgt Taylor destroys one ME 109 and one JU 87.  He is slightly injured by perspex splinters in the face. P/O Sergeant damages a JU 88.  Aircraft cannons are reported to have jammed continuously owing to bad ammunition.

1430 hrs  Twelve more JU 88s attack Floriana and Valletta, where bombs explode in St James and Porte Reale.

Four ME109s drop bombs on St Paul’s Bay near positions of 2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.

1715 hrs  For the third time massed formations of enemy bombers and fighters approach the Island, dividing to attack. Ta Qali is the main target but Luqa and Safi, Hal Far and the Dockyard are also bombed.

1720 hrs  20 JU 88s carry out medium-height bombing of Luqa aerodrome.  Several ME 109s machine-gun the airfield: two Spitfires are shot up on the ground.  Craters are blown in the Siggiewi end of the main runway.  One unexploded bomb is reported near the bomb store, close to the Zurrieq road.

1730 hrs  Five Spitfires 601 Squadron take to the air to intercept incoming enemy aircraft: only one returns to Luqa, at 1840 hrs.

1800 hrs  31 JU 88s attack Ta Qali: many bombs land on the camp, including several delayed action bombs.  Ghain Znuber is machine-gunned, causing three casualties to D Company, 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment; one serious.

1805 hrs  12 JU 88s drop bombs from the Safi strip to Ta Karach ridge.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous enemy bombers: hits claimed.

1815 hrs  Two JU 88s attack Hompesch.  One stick of bombs falls between Bluebell Troop (1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt) and Zejtun and another at 497225.

1825 hrs  Two ME 109s machine-gun B Company, 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt at Zejtun School and fly out to sea over Zonqor Ridge.  Troops retaliate with light machine gun fire: no hits claimed.  One stick of bombs falls 400 yards west of St Clements Church.

1853 hrs  Raiders passed.

1925 hrs  Five aircraft approach the Island without crossing the coast.  They are followed in by a formation of bombers with fighter escort.

1930 hrs  Eleven Spitfires from Ta Qali and five from Luqa are scrambled to intercept the incoming aircraft.  Six of the Spitfires from Ta Qali have a dog fight with ME 109s.  Sgt Hesselyn destroys one ME 109 and damages one JU 88.  P/O Brooker damages one ME 109.  Sgt Brennan destroyes one ME 109 and one JU 88.  P/O McNair probably destroys one ME 109.  P/O Sergeant destroys one JU 88.  F/Lt McQueen destroys one JU 88.   F/Lt Lucas damages one ME 109.

P/O Putnam is killed and F/Sgt Ryckman is missing.  F/Lt Johnson successfully bales out over Luqa.  Two Spitfires are slightly damaged.  Total enemy aircraft: 8 destroyed, one probably destroyed, six damaged.

2000 hrs  Nine remaining JU 88s carry out a dusk attack on Ta Qali.  Many incendiary bombs are dropped during the raid, evidently intended to destroy the newly-arrived Spitfires.

2020-2044 hrs  Nine aircraft approach the Island in two waves: three are illuminated by searchlights and engaged by Ack Ack fire.  Bombs are dropped in the Dockyard area.

Night  Six alerts are sounded for single approaching aircraft.  Bombs are dropped on Ta Qali, Luqa, Corradino, Hal Far and in the sea.

2336-0115 hrs  One JU 88 bomber comes in from the north and drops incendiaries near a Pioneer billet near Tarxien, which are extinguished by the Pioneer platoon.

0240-0327 hrs  One JU 88 approaches from the north and drops bombs and incendiaries between two defence posts of 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt causing a slight fire among crops, which is quickly put out.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer George Ryckman, Royal Canadian Air Force, 402 Squadron; Gunner Lewis Evans, Lance Sergeant James Golding, Gunner Sidney Nurse, Gunner Alfred Phillips, all of 484 Bty, 4 Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery; Sapper Leonard Soper, Mentioned in Despatches, 16 Fortress Coy., Royal Engineers; Police Constable C Cachia HM Dockyard.

Civilian casualties  Floriana  Henry Moakes, age 42.  Hamrun  Dr Annetto Montanaro LLD, age 79.  Mosta  Concetta Mifsud, age 80; Rev Joseph Mifsud, age 50.  Rabat  Louis Agius, age 20; Giovanna Maria Bezzina, age 20.  Sliema  Carmel Rogers, age 71.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 20 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde carried out successful trial and sailed for Gibraltar.  Upholder 48 hours overdue.  46 Spitfires arrived – Operation Calendar – USS Wasp.

AIR HQ  Wellington crashed on landing: crew unhurt.  Spitfire PRU 907 departed from Gibraltar for Malta missing: no further news.  Arrivals  47 Spitfires, 13 Wellingtons, two Blenheims, one Beaufort, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; four Wellingtons to 108 MU; two Blenheims to Gambut.

LUQA  1042-1225 hrs  One Spitfire on photo-reconnaissance Sicilian aerodromes.  2135-0135 hrs  Seven Wellingtons S/D Flight on search for and strike enemy tanker and escort: attack carried out.

TA QALI  F/O Penny is discharged from No 90 General Hospital.  More Spitfires arrive.  20 Officers (603 Squadron) accommodated.  Aerodrome serviceable – repairs proceeding.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Bombs near the entrance of Battalion HQ.  Pte Kilshaw HQ Company hit by piece of stone: mouth cut.  Working parties resumed as Saturday.  C Coy 80 men and A Coy 40 men Valletta.  D Coy 40 men at Ospizio salvaging RAOC stores.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bastion shelter hit by bomb, bomb on north Square Lintorn Barracks, no casualties. Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 15; dealt with 20 (2 x 1000kg; 5 x 500kg, 12 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg).

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Regimental silver removed from Valletta.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Bombs 150 yards wide of Battalion HQ west to east.  Spitfire hit steel pylon and crashed in area at 417208: guarded by this unit.  Aerodrome working party started working at night instead of during the daytime.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  2130 hrs  Luqa and Hal Far working parties continued.

ROYAL ARTILLERY HQ  Ammunition restrictions raised to cover arrival of Spitfires.

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

 

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19 April 1942: No Fighter Planes to Defend Malta – 15 Ack Ack Guns Hit – 71 Killed

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Clear-up in Floriana (NWMA Malta)

NO FIGHTERS UP AGAINST 276 BOMBERS  – BOMB HITS CARE HOME

For the second day in a row no RAF fighters took to the air today to intercept incoming enemy formations.  The Luftwaffe were able to arrive in Malta’s air space unhindered and carried out heavy raids on Grand Harbour and all the airfields, dropping a total of 436 tons of bombs (442,376 kg).  Anti-aircraft positions were a main target: fifteen were hit, killing thirteen Gunners and injuring many more.

TRAGEDY IN HAMRUN

The community of Hamrun is in mourning today after a heavy high explosive bomb struck a care home, killing many of the patients and their carers.  St Paul’s Home for the Elderly was run by the Little Sisters of the Poor, many of whom were among the 34 killed in the explosion.

GEORGE CROSS JOINS VICTORY V

“Great exhilaration is being shown by the people of Malta since the award of the George Cross by His Majesty the King.  Replicas of the cross are being chalked on all the buildings alongside the ‘Victory V’ sign.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 APRIL TO DAWN 20 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly.  30% high cloud – fine.

0710 hrs  Air alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

0806 hrs  60 JU 88 bombers and 24 JU 87 Stuka dive-bombers escorted by fighters are reported approaching the Island.  They divide into several formations to attack Grand Harbour, Hal Far, Safi and Luqa, dropping four bombs from each plane.

0845 hrs  Massive formations of JU 88s and JU 87s attack the Grand Harbour area, including Marsa Creek and Valletta. The San Lorenzo Tunnel is hit, causing a partial collapse.  SS Pampas is set on fire and part of the Tram Depot is destroyed.

Royal Artillery HQ reports bombs on San Pietru gun position – one gun slightly damaged; Benghaisa gun position – gun out of action slightly damaged and three Other Ranks wounded; and on Tal Qroqq, Hompesch and Marsa gun positions.

Msida Bastion (NWMA Malta)

A large formation of JU 88s attacks Valletta.  A stick of bombs falls on Old Mills Street: no casualties.  Eight JU 88s peel off to target Msida Creek: the Ospizio Barracks are hit.

0900 hrs  Two formations – five JU 88s and four ME 109 fighter bombers – carry out high level bombing and dive bombing on Luqa airfield, cratering the runway.  One unexploded bomb is reported in the Beaufort dispersal area.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 88s: hits claimed.

0915 hrs  Bombs explode north of Zabbar and between close to three defence posts of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt.  Light Machine Guns of their Battalion HQ and D Company engage one JU 88: no hits claimed.

0954 hrs  Thirteen JU88 bombers raid Kalafrana and another eight attack Hal Far causing ten craters on the runway and dispersal areas.  Barrack blocks are hit, one Hurricane is burned out, one Albacore and one Swordfish slightly damaged.

1003 hrs  Raiders passed.

1015 hrs  1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report an unexploded bomb UXB 150 yards from Post RA3 and another at map reference 489224.

1121-1143 hrs  Four enemy aircraft (suspected to be ME 109s) approach the Island but do not cross the coast.

1325 hrs  Several large plots of enemy bombers with fighter escort are reported approaching the Island.  They divide into several formations to attack Grand Harbour Hal Far, Luqa and the Safi strip.

1330 hrs  A massive wave of JU 87s and JU 88s attacks the Grand Harbour area.  The Police Office at Dockyard Main Gate is wrecked, and a surgery damaged.  Several bombs land on Valletta, including one on a shelter in Merchant Street.  In Floriana, Argotti Gardens, the Police Station and the Government Dispensary are hit.  Bombs destroy several houses in St Francis Street: 13 casualties are later recovered from the rubble.  Royal Artillery HQ reports direct hits on the Santa Maria gun position with 14 casualties.

1340 hrs  A large formation of aircraft bomb Marsa crossroads, blocking the road, Marsa Creek and Marsa Ack Ack Battery, where there are six casualties.

1400 hrs  One JU 88 attacks Hompesch: one stick of bombs lands close to a 3″ Ack Ack Battery and other positions of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt.  Their D Company gunners engage one JU 88 turning away from the attack: no hits claimed.

1445 hrs  L/Cpl James and Pte D Macpherson, 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt are killed by an enemy bomb.

1400 hrs  Twenty JU 87s and JU 88s attack Hal Far, badly damaging the Officers’ Mess and other quarters, including barrack blocks, cookhouse and the NAAFI.  Two Hurricanes are slightly damaged.  One stick of bombs falls across Hagiar Qim Battery causing some damage to equipment.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 88s and ME 109s: hits claimed.

1325 hrs  JU 87s, 88s and ME 109s carry out high level and dive-bombing raids on Luqa aerodrome, cratering the main runway, and on Safi strip.  Transit Flight offices and Works and Buildings offices are damaged beyond use; four previously damaged billets are written off.

1446 hrs  Raiders passed.

1530 hrs  1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt reports an unexploded bomb at map position 518219.

1557 hrs  Four aircraft (suspected to be ME 109 fighter bombers) approach from the north and drop bombs in the north of the Island.

1600 hrs  A delivery flight of seven Hurricane lands successfully.

1626 hrs  Raiders passed.

1630 hrs  1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt reports two unexploded bombs at map position 512227.

1800 hrs  Several large plots of enemy bombers with fighter escort are identified approaching the Island.

1812 hrs  A large formation of bombers attacks the Grand Harbour area, including Corradino, French Creek and Marsa Creek.  Bombs on Floriana cause considerable damage to the NAAFI Club in Parade Ground, Portes des Bombes area and Valletta Wharf.

Ack Ack gunners score a direct hit on one JU 88 and the aircraft disintegrates in mid-air.  Manoel gun position is hit, killing nine Other Ranks and wounding one officer and 5 Other Ranks.  Naxxar, Tal Qroqq, Benghaisa and Hompesch Heavy Ack Ack positions report near misses; the HQ of 32 Light Ack Ack is demolished.

1830 hrs  JU 87 and 88 bombers attack Hal Far.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 87s: hits claimed.

1840 hrs  One lone JU 88 carries out a high level bombing attack against Hompesch.  One bomb lands on the camp of Battalion HQ 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt but there are no casualties.

1940 hrs  All clear.

Night  Four air raid alerts sound for six enemy raiders.  Bombs are dropped on Gudja, Safi, Hal Far and Kalafrana.  No fighters are airborne.

2245-2340 hrs  One Italian BR 20 aircraft approaches from the north and drops a number of 12kg bombs round Bir-id-Deheb, and from Ghaxaq to the Safi strip.

0130 hrs; 0238-0251 hrs  Air raid alerts sounds for single aircraft: nothing transpires.

0330-0600 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on patrol to intercept incoming enemy aircraft: no engagement.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Joseph Galea, HMS St.Angelo;  Gunner Anthony Cunningham, 7 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Lance Corporal Alfred James, 1st Battalion, The Dorsetshire Regiment; Private Henry Livingstone, 1st Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment; Gunner Saviour Mifsud, 3 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Private Anthony Saliba, King’s Own Malta Regiment.

Gunner Cyril Bunn; Gunner Sydney Carter; Lance Bombardier Charles Castle; Bombardier Andrew Cullen; Gunner James Ditheridge; Gunner John Mansell; Gunner Thomas Smith; Gunner James Stewart; Gunner Samuel Vickers, all of 222 Bty, 10 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.  Lance Bombardier Albert Johnson and Bombardier Cyril Pughe, both 190 Bty (6th Battalion The Royal Warwickshire Regiment), 10 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties Gudja   Anthony Borg, age 46.  Gzira  Joseph Borg, age 15; Josephine Gingell, age 40.

Hamrun  Marianna Attard, age 70; Filomena Azzopardi, age 70; Rosaria Azzopardi, age 70; Francesca Bonello, age 75; Silvia Bono, age 71; Carmela Borg, age 91; Giovanna Borg, age 72; Lucrezia Borg, age 55; Rosa Calascione, age 70; Mary Calascione, age 40; Maria Camilleri, age 70; Mary Camilleri, age 70; Joseph Caruana, age 77; Teresa Casabene, age 58; Marianna Cassar, age 65; Joseph Cuschieri, age 75; Catherine Cauchi, age 66; Concetta Darmanin, age 70; Carmela Debono, age 80; Pauline Ferro, age 80; Josephine Galea, age 70; Sister Teresa Garabaldi, age 53; Antonia Hyzler, age 75; Mary Kelly, age 90; Emanuela Laferla, age 70; Teresa Meilak, age 90; Teresa Micallef, age 60; Virginia Micallef, age 60; Grace Pace, age 80; Clara Pace, age 70; Giovanna Potenza, age 70; Sister Therese Sciberras, age 85; Mary Vella, age 69; Rosa Zahra, age 70.

Msida  Francesca Bianco, age 70; Vincenza Caruana Mamo, age 74; Joseph Grech, age 76; John Zammit, age 78.  Sliema  Emanuel Borg, age 16.  Valletta  Violetta Bone, age 16; Joseph Borg, age 14; Herman Scerri, age 14.  Zabbar  Angela Degabriele, age 75; Josephine Gatt, age 34; Mary Lia, age 38; Saviour Mallia, age 33; Joseph Mallia, age 30; Grace Tedesco, age 23.    Zejtun  Paul Despott, age 16.  Zurrieq  Carmel Callus, age 43; Anthony Inguanez, age 13.

Enemy casualty  Josef Bauer.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 19 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde sailed for Gibraltar with passengers.   Attacked by ME 109 off Grand Harbour and returned at 2200 hrs.  Una proceeded on patrol west of Tripoli.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Seven Hurricanes, two Blenheims from Gambut; one Beaufighter from Gibraltar.  Departures  Five Wellingtons to 108 MU; one Hudson to Gibraltar.

LUQA  2152-0920 hrs  Six Wellingtons S/D Flight search for and attack enemy shipping.  Sight one merchant ship and two motor torpedo boats: no attacks made.

TA QALI  20 airmen attached to this station from Luqa for one day.  One Chief Petty Officer and twelve seamen ex Breconshire attached to this station for armament duties.  Aerodrome runway serviceable and extensive repairs proceeding.

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  1 Dorset L/Cpl James and Pte Macpherson killed by a bomb at Gzira.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT 50 men working on electric light mains in Valletta continued working today; other parties stood down.  Several incendiaries in and around Horn Works.  Pte Livingstone, B Company, killed by shrapnel.  Pte Holmes injured and admitted No 90 General Hospital.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  0215 hrs  Lt Treadwell dies in No 90 General Hospital.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  NAAFI in Lintorn Bks demolished by bomb.  Further bombs on Floriana Parade Ground – no casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 27; dealt with 13 (1 x 1000kg; 3 x 500kg, 2 x 250kg, 7 x 50kg).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  1700 hrs  No 4 Platoon now located at Ta Salib cross tracks.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  One bomb lands close to B Company cook house of 3rd Battalion.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Final day for Hal Far working party.  2100-0630 hrs  Both working parties numbering all available Officers and men at Luqa and Hal Far to complete first set of pens for new aircraft.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT Working parties continue building Spitfire pens on Ta Qali aerodrome.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  A working party of 130 Other Ranks is employed at Luqa during the hours of darkness.

(1) Army News, Darwin, Australia, 19 April 1942

 

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11 April 1942: Bombing Cuts Power, Water and Bread Supplies

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POWER CABLES DOWN, WATER AND GAS MAINS DAMAGED, BAKERIES AND MILLS AFFECTED

From:  Governor (Lt Gen Sir W Dobbie)  To:  Secretary of State for the Colonies 

Most Secret

  1. Valletta: clearing debris (NWMA Malta)

    On the evening of 7th April Valletta was heavily and apparently deliberately bombed.  Many buildings either destroyed or extensively damaged.  Among these were the Palce, near miss, Auberge de Castille (RA Headquarters), [Auberge] de France (Education Department) and Opera House, all direct hits.  Market mostly destroyed.  Other buildings housing Government Departments also destroyed or badly damaged…Much damage also to private property with interruption of water and electricity supply, telephones and blockage of roads.  Gas service previously put out of action and not repairable in present conditions.  Casualties fortunately few.  There had also been serious damage in Valletta in previous days resulting from attacks on the harbour area.

  2. Cumulative effects of the above have made it impossible for Government offices in the Palace and other seriously damaged buildings to continue to function in Valletta.  These including my own office and the Lieutenant Governor’s are now being moved to Hamrun and environs.
  3. There has also been much damage in the Three Cities, Marsa, Floriana and stores on Valletta side of Grand Harbour.  Power Station and Flour Mills have so far escaped serious damage but baking and the distribution of bread has been most difficult owing to the destruction of several bakeries and the interruption of electric power and breakdowns in communications.  Situation now in hand.
  4. The people are showing great fortitude in face of acute hardship to very many.

LACK OF MINESWEEPERS LEAVES MALTA’S SHIPS AT RISK

Vice Admiral Malta notifies Commander in Chief Mediterranean that due to recent heavy bomb damage the Island is severely short of minesweepers.  The approach channels cannot be fully swept, presenting a serious risk to vessels operating from Grand Harbour.  It is hoped that one or two minesweepers can be sent to Malta with the next convoy.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 APRIL TO DAWN 12 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind south-east; clear, with haze at 20000 feet.

0543 hrs  Two ME 109s patrol south of the Island.

0625 hrs  Two ME 109s patrol south east of the Island.

0848-0858 hrs  One JU 88 and two ME 109s cross the coast on reconnaissance.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1020 hrs 12 ME 109 fighters and fighter bombers – attack Hal Far.  One Hurricane is burned out and two slightly damaged.  One petrol bowser is damaged.

1215 hrs  Formations of 37 ME 109s, 44 JU 88s and 16 JU 87s approach the Island from different directions, attacking Grand Harbour, Luqa, Ta Qali and Hal Far.

1216 hrs  10 JU 88s attack gun positions round Grand Harbour; several bombs land near radio communications positions at Rinella: roads are blocked.

1225 hrs 15 JU 88 bombers drop dozens of high explosive bombs on Ta Qali: three land near the caves.

1230 hrs  A formation of 14 JU 88s attacks Luqa aerodrome, destroying two Wellingtons, two Beauforts and one Hurricane.  One Wellington under repair is further damaged and a truck is burned out.

1237 hrs  Twelve JU 88s bomb Safi strip. 

1240 hrs  Two Messerschmitts machine-gun the Safi strip.

1245-1257 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) engage numerous JU 88s and ME 109s: no claims.

1331 hrs  All clear.

1714  hrs  100 enemy aircraft including JU 88s, JU 87s and ME 109s in several formations approach the Island and divide to attack the Dockyard, Luqa, Safi and Hal Far.

1725-1735 hrs  Guns of 225 LAA engage numerous JU 88s and ME 109s.  One gun claims two hits on each of two JU 88s, another claims one hit on each of two JU 88s.  One generator is damaged by bomb splinters.

1727 hrs  Three ME 109s and ten JU 88s bomb Hal Far.  One Hurricane is badly damaged and two slightly damaged.  One soldier is injured and a petrol bowser is destroyed.

HMS Kingston

1730 hrs  HMS Kingston in No 4 Dock is hit on the port side amidships.  The bomb penetrates the bulkhead between the engine-room and gearing room.  The ship turns over to port and is believed to be a write-off.

JU 88s and ME 109s carry out dive-bombing and ground-strafing on Luqa aerodrome, destroying four Wellingtons and damaging one Maryland, one Wellington and a photo-reconnaissance Spitfire.

1750 hrs  30 JU 88s drop bombs on Ta Qali: the runway is still serviceable.

1800-1810 hrs  Four ME 109s attack Mellieha Camp and Selmun Palace, causing slight damage to buildings.  Ack Ack guns engage.

1820 hrs  Bombs at Xaghra and San Pietru. One JU 88 is engaged by 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt: no hits claimed.

1921-0705 hrs  Continuous series of raids by individual aircraft.

2045-2200 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on patrol for enemy aircraft: no engagements.

0027 hrs  A single enemy aircraft comes in from the north.  A Beaufighter is airborne and shoots down the enemy bomber out to sea.

0305-0410 hrs  One Beaufighter on interceptions destroys one Italian BR 20.

0345 hrs The Beaufighter closes in on an Italian BR 20, attacks and destroys it over Gozo.

0430-0630 hrs  One Beaufighter on interceptions: no engagement.

Military casualties  Sergeant David Balmer, Royal Air Force Volunteer  Reserve; Gunner Theodore Dalli, 3rd Light Ack Ack (LAA) Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Joseph Faella, 3rd LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Lawrence Spiteri, 3rd LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Mgarr  Mary Vella, age 36.

Enemy casualties  Obergefreiter Peter Dressen, Observer;  Unteroffizier Karl Geilenkirchen, Air Gunner; Unteroffizier Friedrich Haas, Wireless Operator all crew of a JU 88 bomber, killed when the aircraft was shot down.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 11 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Kingston sank.  Rinella W/T Station damaged.  Urge proceeded for patrol between Lampion and Pantelleria.

AIR HQ  Hudson missing: no further news.  Hudson crash-landed: crew safe.  Arrivals  One Sunderland, two Wellingtons, four Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Sunderland to 108 MU.

LUQA 1120-1420 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissancfe Sicilian aerodromes and Pantelleria.

TA QALI  Aerodrome serviceable but large repairs still required.  Army parties still working.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1745 hrs  One JU 88 crosses Battalion HQ Camp at low altitude after coming through the harbour barrage.   The aircraft is engaged by light machine gunfre from Battalion HQ and D Company, and crashes at Tal Francis.

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

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Hal Far working party continues: demolition and construction work progressing.  The working party is machine-gunned: no casualties.  Ack Ack light machine-guns claim strikes on one ME 109.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 10; dealt with 3 (1 x 30kg; 1 x 250kg; 1 x 1000kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

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8 April 1942: Fierce Battle to Save a Ship – Penelope’s Story

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1-8 APRIL 1942: enemy bombers 1427; bombs 1,759,186kg (1731 tons); casualties 234

  • Thousands of tons of bombs have ravaged Luqa, Ta Qali, Hal Far and Grand Harbour
  • Yesterday enemy bombers devastated Valletta – are civilians the target now?
  • Intelligence suggests a Luftwaffe plan to extend bombing across Malta’s villages and towns
  • With electricity, gas and water cut off and bread supplies under threat, how can the Island survive?
  • Visit maltagc70 for the latest news from Malta, 1942

PENELOPE’S LAST STAND

HMS Penelope holed and patched in Malta

Dockyard Foreman Len Austin remembers the final departure of HMS Penelope, thanks to the combined efforts of the Navy, Army and Dockyard workers, and his highly respected Manager, Mr Joughin.  One of the cruisers of Force K, the convoy so effective at sinking enemy merchant ships, Penelope has been in dry dock since 27March, for essential repairs:

“…she was now a sitting duck for the bombers. Bombs rained down but she was not hit, although the dock coping and the workshops adjacent were badly damaged…The two gangways from the dockside one forward and the other aft received direct hits and the ship’s sides in these areas were pierced by hundreds of holes, above and below the waterline. All that could be done was to weld patches over the holes and this proceeded.  There were not enough welders available so Mr Joughin asked whether any were available among the troops on the Island who could help and only one was found.”

By this afternoon almost the entire ship has been peppered with holes, all the aft cabins wrecked and the quarterdeck covered with debris from bomb damage to Dockyard structures.  It was decided that Penelope should sail as soon as possible.  As if aware of her departure, the Luftwaffe bombers returned for another heavy raid on the dockyard:

“arrangements were made for further supports under the ship so that she could help in the barrage. She fired until her gun barrels were virtually worn out. It was obvious that her luck could not last out indefinitely and undocking was scheduled for [this] afternoon. A long raid developed and we were in the Shelters for some hours…the afternoon raid had delayed the repair so the dock flooding time had to be put back…

With serious doubts whether Penelope could be lifted in time to leave port tonight the Vice Admiral Malta convened a conference and Mr Joughin was asked what could be done:

“’You must land every man who is not required for the working of the ship, all their equipment, all surplus easily removed fittings, all spare gear, as much fresh water as possible, in fact strip the ship of as much weight as could be done without impairing her steaming. We will take the ship to Canteen Jetty. You may embark 200 tons of oil fuel and a full outfit of ammunition and then sail with a good chance of reaching Gibraltar.’

…In minutes all was in hand and the dockside quickly became littered with off loaded weight. A halt was called whilst the ship was towed to the Jetty where the activity was resumed.  The “Kingston” a Destroyer which had sustained a near miss hit was then moved into the vacated dock. [Another] heavy raid developed and “Kingston” was hit amidships and sunk. This could have been “Penelope’s” fate.  She sailed at dusk, was attacked in the Narrows by Pantelleria, fired all her ammunition but reached Gibraltar safely” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 APRIL TO DAWN 9 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; 10% cloud at 18000 feet.

0825-0922 hrs  Four ME 109s attack Ta Qali, dropping four small bombs on the aerodrome.

Four Hurricanes 185 Squadron and four Hurricanes 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept ten JU 88s north west of Grand Harbour.  F/L Lloyd claims one JU 88 and one ME 109 damaged. P/O Wigley damages one JU 88 and Sgt Boyd claimed one JU 88 probably destroyed and one damaged.

1045-1145 hrs  Seven JU 88s, part of a larger formation of bombers, carry out a deliberate attack on aerodrome buildings at Luqa.  All bombs fall on the motor transport section.  Bombs are also dropped on Misrah Blandun area.

1120 hrs  Air raid by eight JU 88s with fighter escort of ME 109s attack Hal Far.  Ten craters on aerodrome and about 30 incendiaries dropped on aerodrome.

1125 hrs Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA)  engage numerous JU 88s, claiming seven hits on four aircraft.

1324 hrs  26 aircraft come in from the south east and drop bombs in the Dockyard and Paola areas.   Two bombs land on Hompesch 3.7″ Battery, near Battalion HQ Camp of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Reg.  Another bomb explodes between the Camp and Zabbar.

1335 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron sight six JU 88s with fighter escort.  Hurricanes attack, then Spitfires follow in.  F/L Heppell destroys one JU 88 and damages another.  P/O West G damages one JU 88 and destroys one ME 109; P/O Kelly damages one JU 88.

1345 hrs  Three ME 109s are engaged by 5 guns of 225 LAA; two hits claimed on one by two guns.

1400 hrs  Four ME 109s drop four bombs on Ta Qali, causing two small craters on the aerodrome.  One soldier is seriously wounded and one slightly. 

1505 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron attack eight JU 88s.  F/O West R probably destroys one; F/L Heppell damages one but is then blown out of his machine, probably by a Bofors shell.  He lands safely near Floriana.

1405 hrs  Four ME 109 fighters machine-gun Mellieha Camp.  1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment engage raiders: no claims.

1510 hrs  Enemy aircraft drop bombs in the Dockyard and Paola areas.  Bombs also land on the Mall Gardens in Floriana and an unexploded bomb is discovered in St James Ditch.  Lintorn Barracks and the Central Civil Hospital are also hit.

1525 hrs  ME 109 fighters machine-gun Luqa while four ME 109 fighter-bombers drop bombs on the airfield.  Six guns of 225 LAA engage three ME 109s: no claims.

1615 hrs  A stick of four 250kg bombs falls 500 yards south of Selmun Palace causing slight damage.

1721 hrs  22 ME 109, 32 JU 88 and 26 JU 87 attack ships in Grand Harbour.  Penelope’s gunners fire back until they exhaust their ammunition supplies.  The Gunnery Officer is killed and the Captain and several others wounded.  A bomb penetrates the forward decks of Kingston passing through and piercing her hull, but does not explode.

1744 hrs  1st Bn Cheshire Regiment receive a message to say work on Pampas ceases at 2000 hrs, with 12 hours’ notice to start again.  Men of B Company volunteer to load ammunition onto HMS Penelope prior to her departure from Malta.  An air raid is on at the time and the ship is a target.

1815 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled and see a Dornier 26 on the water, plus two JU 88s and ME 109s.

1910 hrs  P/O West 249 Squadron destroys the Dornier flying boat and one ME 109; P/O Kelly destroys one JU 88.

1938 hrs  All clear.

2007-2235 hrs  One Beaufighter on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft destroys a JU 88.

2026-2050 hrs  One enemy aircraft approaches from the east, crossing Zonkor Point.  It is engaged by a Beaufighter with a short burst and crashes in flames at the Safi end of Luqa aerodrome.

2140-2212 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north east but does not cross the coast.

2230-0050; 0135-0255; 0525-0635 hrs  Beaufighter on interceptions: no engagement.

2345-0645 hrs  A series of raids by single enemy aircraft.  Incendiaries are dropped on several locations including Ospizio, Latnia and Sliema sea front.

Military casualties  Lieutenant Jack Miller, HMS Penelope; Marine Daniel Soames, Royal Marines, HMS Penelope;  Able Seaman Sidney Tancock, Mentioned in Despatches, HMS Penelope.

Private Ivan Harrold, 1st Battalion, Durham Light Infantry; Private Cecil Peace, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment; Fusilier Charles Milne, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers; Fusilier Henry Worster, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers; Marjorie Smith, wife of Regimental Sergeant-Major Smith, 2nd Battalion, Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment.

Lance Bombardier John Hovell, 4th HAA Regiment, Royal Artilllery; Gunner Stanley Smith, 7th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Bombardier Geoffrey Worrall, 10th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery, (6th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment);Staff Sergeant Henry Staples, 11th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Joseph Mallia, 11th AA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Gunner George Falzon, 1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Lance Bombardier John Grech, 1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Emanuelle Mizzi, 1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Gudja  Fred Scicluna, age 45.  Marsa  Salvu Grima, age 57.  Qormi  Francis Barbara, age 56.  Tarxien  Joseph Bartolo, age 52.  Valletta  Joseph Cachia, age 49.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 8 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  During a dive-bombing attack on Grand Harbour Penelope ran out of ammunition and the Captain was wounded.  Kingston was damaged and in sinking condition.  Penelope sailed for Gibraltar at 2000 hrs.  Unsuccessful shipping search off Tunisian Coast by Swordfish.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Gambut; one Maryland from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Beaufort to 108 MU; one Lodestar to Gambut.

HAL FAR  Night 8-9th  Swordfish despatched to check up the position of the Kelibe light.

LUQA  1230-1325 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance western Sicilian aerodromes.  2340-0555 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on search for shipping and attack.  Sighted one merchant vessel with escorting destroyer and submarine.  Bombed merchant vessel but undershot.

TA QALI  Orderly Rooms, SWO , Guard Room move from St Edward’s College Mdina to Nos 3 & 11 caves.   Messina House taken over for billets.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT Working parties still on Pampas.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Cpl Worn is injured by machine-gun bullet from enemy aircraft.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  2345 hrs  Pte C Peace died in No 39 General Hospital as a result of wounds received from a bomb at Corradino on 7 April.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  A and B Companies working on Ta Qali aerodrome.  C, D and HQ Companies working on Luqa aerodrome.  One Other Rank wounded by enemy action on Ta Qali and died of wounds same day.  Three Naval Officers and 56 Naval Ratings attached to the Battalion for rations and accommodation, with a further 25 Naval Ratings with effect from 9th.  All from ships damaged in Grand Harbour by enemy air raids.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Incendiary bombs in the Barracks. Quickly extinguished – no damage or casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 14; dealt with 9 (4 x 50kg; 3 x 250kg; 1 x 500kg; 1 x 1000kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

(1)  Extract from Autobiography of Leonard (Len) Austin, Foreman of Malta Dockyard, August 1939 – March 1943 

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7 April 1942: Worst Raid of War Destroys Heart of Valletta

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2000th alert today – 17 raid alerts in 24 hours – 273 bombers attack

HEAVIEST BOMBING YET TARGETS CIVILIANS

Stunned at destruction of Royal Opera House (NWMA Malta)

“Valletta is a stricken city…all the beautiful old palaces are bombed, all the churches have been ruined, blitzed…hundreds of houses are no more…nearly all shops destroyed…the streets are impassable, stones dust everywhere…stones are piled high in the streets, often twenty feet high” (1)

Today Malta experienced the heaviest attack ever yet made from the air – and it was directed at the civilian population.  The 280 tons of high explosives dropped on the tiny peninsula of Valletta this afternoon were not stray bombs intended for Grand Harbour.

Luftwaffe operations reports reveal a deliberate intention to bomb Valletta itself, with targets including the Governor’s Palace and several residential quarters in the City.  The enemy employed heavy high explosives for maximum destruction: Berlin radio claimed that many one-ton bombs were used in the raid.

Disregarding the danger to civilians, the bombing was an apparent attempt to destroy the heart of Malta’s government.  The Governor and Commander in Chief has now decided to evacuate the administration inland.

Auberge de France in ruins (NWMA Malta)

Many of the Valletta’s ancient palaces have been badly hit: the Auberge de France is in ruins, the Governor’s Palace and the Market severely damaged.  The Auberge d’Aragon and the Auberge d’Italie received direct hits.  The King George V Hospital in Floriana is destroyed.

It is estimated that 70 per cent of buildings in Valletta and Floriana have now been destroyed or damaged. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 APRIL TO DAWN 8 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; no cloud.

0905-1039 hrs  A large formation of 85 JU 87 Stukas and JU 88s approaches the Island and attacks in eight waves.  The main targets are Luqa, Hal Far and Ta Qali aerodromes, and Grand Harbour, which is attacked from a different direction each time.  Bombs also land on Cospicua, Marsa, Hamrun, Gzira, Msida, Tal Qroqq and St Julians.  19 JU 87 Stukas attack Kalafrana.  Marsa and Nicola gun positions are both attacked.  Two JU 88 and one ME 109 are destroyed by Ack Ack; others are damaged.

0930 hrs  Eight JU 88s drop ten bombs (including one delayed-action) on Ta Qali.  Three soldiers are slightly injured.

0935-1000 hrs  Numerous JU 87s and JU 88s are engaged by guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) : no claims.

0945 hrs  A bomb on Store Wharf near Sheer Bastion causes a large crater and the final collapse of CDs Offices.  Boom Defence yard, Marsa, is badly damaged, as is equipment round the Dockyard.  The roof of billets in 98 & 99 Cospicua Road collapses, damaging the Bren stores of E Company 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.

1000 hrs  Bombs are dropped in the Ta Klantun area.

1005 hrs  L/Cpl C Worn, manning the Battalion HQ forward Ack Ack position of 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt, fires at an attacking JU 88.  The aircraft’s rear gunner fires back, wounding L/Cpl Worn in his right shoulder.  He is sent to hospital.

1406 hrs  12 JU 88s drop bombs on Luqa aerodrome, destroying the armoury, main stores and ration stores, the NAAFI and the Airmen’s Mess.  Offices and Sick Quarters are damaged; one block containing important equipment and two ablutions buildings are demolished and three others are uninhabitable.   One Beaufort and one Hurricane are slightly damaged.

1415 hrs  Four ME 109s drop bombs on the Ta Liebru area.

1427 hrs  One JU 88 and two ME 109s diving from 5000 to 500 feet are engaged by guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA): no claims.

1450-1515 hrs  Two ME 109s machine-gun the Safi strip from the south west.  225 LAA engage the aircraft: no claims.  ME 109s carry out machine-gun attacks on the Hal Far working party.  Ack Ack light machine-guns of 11th Bn Lancashire Regt engage and damage at least two JU 88s.

St Johns St, Valletta (NWMA Malta)

1749 hrs  156 JU 88s and Stukas attack Valletta, dropping hundreds of high explosive bombs and demolishing the Market, the Castille, Royal Opera House, the Lyceum and many other buildings.  Several buildings in Old Baker Street, St John’s Street and South Street are destroyed.

Floriana is also badly hit.  Part of the Old Railway Tunnel under Floriana collapses, trapping and badly injuring people under the debris.  Houses at the corner of Capuchins St and Granaries Square are demolished.  Houses in Britannia Square and Lion Street are demolished and the Protection Office at Floriana School receives a direct hit.  Bombs explode on the Floriana Parade Ground and the Royal Engineers Married Quarters at Msida Bastion.

1815-1830 hrs  Numerous JU 87s and JU 88s are engaged by guns of 225 LAA; several hits claimed.

2045 hrs  One JU 88 is shot down by a Beaufighter night fighter and crashes on Safi strip: all the crew are killed.

2210 hrs  3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt ordered to stand to: E boats are reported in the vicinity.

Night  Continuous raids: Heavy Ack Ack and night fighters engage.

2230-0052 hrs; 0520-0626 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on interception operations: no engagement.

0300 hrs  One defence post of 11th Bn Lancashire Regt receives a direct hit, killing two Other Ranks and injuring seven.

Military casualties  Signalman Cecil Elems, HMS St.Angelo; Frank Overton, Telegraphist, HMS St.Angelo; Signalman John McClure, HM Tug C.308.

Gunner Wilfred Baines, Gunner George Barnes, Gunner John Barratt, Lance Bombardier Eric Broad, Gunner William Bromley, Gunner William Carruthers, Gunner John Hill, Gunner John Simm, Gunner John Vernon, all 190 Battery, 10 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Gunner Anthony (Emanuel) Cutajar, Gunner Peter Darmanin, Gunner Anthony Grech, Lance Bombardier Spiridione Mizzi, Gunner Victor (Carmel) Tabone, Gunner Carmel Tanti, all 11th AA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Gunner Bertie Allen; Gunner Herbert Fuller, Gunner Richard Thompson, Gunner Harold Meylor (Meyler), all 4th Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Private Joseph Grima, 1st Battalion, King’s Own Malta Regiment; Fusilier Ernest Crosland, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers; Gunner Peter Taylor, 7th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery;  Sapper William Waller, 16 Fortress Coy, Royal Engineers.

Civilian casualties  Birzebbugia  Manuela Briffa, age 8; Carmela Briffa, age 6; Caterian Briffa, age 4.  Gzira  Joseph Caruana, age 33.  Luqa  Lawrence Cassar, age 19.  Naxxar  Mariano Sammut, age 24.  Valletta  Luigi Cachia Zammit Slythe, age 60; Helen Cachia Zammit Slythe, age 58; Rev Robert Cachia Zammit Slythe, age 55; Rosina Cachia Zammit Slythe, age 50.  Vittoriosa  Giovanna Catania, age 60.  Zabbar  Ludgarda Debonon, age 60.  Gozo  Joseph Buttigieg, age 60.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 7 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Further damage was caused in the Dockyard by air raids.  P31 returned from patrol in Upper Tyrrhenian sea.

AIR HQ  Departures  Three Blenheims to 108 MU.

HAL FAR  Night  One Swordfish RNAS despatched on a special search along the Tunisian coast but had to return due to fuel pressure trouble.

LUQA  1542-1902 hrs One Spitfire 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance Sicilian aerodromes and harbours.  2231-0431 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight special search Messina-Cape Spartivento.  0040-0235 hrs  One Swordfish NAS special search returned early with fuel pressure trouble.

TA QALI  Many scrambles and many air raids during the day.  Boschetto Gardens are prospected for tented accommodation.  Valuable assistance given by the Durham Light Infantry.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  0930 hrs  Main Brigade HQ office, Officers’ Mess and Clerks’ Office demolished: one minor casualty.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT 0800 hrs  Work on Pampas starts again.  Heavy air raids during the day.  More bombs near HQ Officers’ Mess.  Direct hit on B Company HQ: building completely demolished.  Many other bombs in and around the Dockyard.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Bn on Southern Infantry Brigade Exercise No 15.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Pte Pearce injured by a bomb at Corrodino and afterwards died.  2000 hrs  UXB reported at house 513243.  2222 hrs  Orders for one Light Machine Gun to be mounted for Ack Ack at each platoon locality.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Four Other Ranks are wounded by enemy action while working on Ta Qali aerodrome.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 39; dealt with 6 (4 x 250kg; 1 x 500kg; 1 x 1000kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT 1700 hrs  B Company relieved by A Company on the Safi strip; B Company moving to Gudja Camp.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Bombs in Bn area, 150 yards west of Tal Providence to Ghar Lapsi.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  This unit commences repair of Hal Far aerodrome and construction of aircraft blast pens.  0930 hrs  Intense raid: bombs very near this HQ – minor damage, one casualty.  Direct hit CIB HQ – little damage. 1000 hrs  Fusilier Crosland is killed while firing an Ack Ack light machine gun in a heavy raid at Hal Far.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  During the day numerous hits are claimed on enemy aircraft.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Battalion on manoeuvres as per 6 April.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Battalion HQ moves to Advanced HQ position; HQ Company to Poor House; A Company to the Race Course.

(1)  Times of Malta, from When Malta Stood Alone, Joseph Micallef, Interprint Malta 1981

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

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

 

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6 April 1942: Bomb Crushes Civilian Shelter – 18 Dead

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1-6 APRIL 1942: Enemy bombers over Malta 893; bombs 1,069,540kg (1053 tons); casualties 173

  • 114 bombers attack Malta today
  • Civilian shelter crushed in Tarxien: 18 dead
  • Widespread bombing in Floriana
  • Attacks on Hamrun, Zejtun, Guardamangia, Marsa, Zabbar and Zabbar
  • Ta Qali “nearly all buildings destroyed”

MALTA STANDING UP TO NEW AIR BLITZ AND HITTING BACK  London, Monday AAP

“Divebombers were again used by the enemy [Malta, Sunday] in full-scale attacks on the harbour, and more damage was done to civilian buildings.  Entrances to 3 shelters were blocked by debris, but they were soon cleared, and the people taking shelter were unhurt.

Such incidents are an everyday affair to the people of Malta after the most prolonged and intensive air assault the world has ever known.  Dive-bombing attacks, in which Valletta and countryside are attacked indiscriminately, have failed to stop the Maltese from carrying on.  Even before the all-clear signal is sounded police and ARP men are already rescuing people trapped in burnt houses and taking victims to hospital.

Meanwhile, ordinary work goes on. Buses sometimes have to make detours, but by the end of the day the roads are clear.  Electricity, gas and water supplies are always restored in a matter of hours.  Up to now, 4,200 private houses have been destroyed.”  The Argus, Melbourne

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 APRIL TO DAWN 7 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; 100% medium cloud.

0654-0720 hrs  One JU 88 and two ME 109s patrol north of the Island.

1015-1101 hrs  One JU 88 circles the Island, then drops bombs between Zabbar and San Pinto.

1354-1449 hrs  Two ME 109s machine-gun Ghain Tuffieha and Mellieha camp.

1740 hrs  Over 100 aircraft approach the Island in four waves.  The first wave of 15 JU 88s drops bombs in the Marsa and Hamrun areas.

1755 hrs  The second wave of 17 JU 87s and 20 JU 88s attacks the Dockyard area dropping bombs on Club House Wharf, wrecking cranes on Hamilton Wharf and sinking a floating crane.  A private shelter in Tarxien is hit by a heavy bomb, collapsing the structure and killing 18 civilians.

1809 hrs  Four ME 109s drop bombs on Hal Far, with a direct hit on the RAF Officers’ Mess, causing severe damage to the ante-room and bar.

1815 hrs  The third wave splits into two formations.  17 JU 88s attack the Dockyard again; another 12 88s strike other areas including Hamrun, Zejtun, Guardamangia, Floriana, Marsa and Ricasoli.  Ack Ack destroy one JU 88 and damage two.  In Floriana St Francis Barracks are hit, killing one soldier is killed and severely injuring three.  Bombs also damage St Thomas’ Street, Gunlayer Street, the Granaries, Sannia Street, Great Siege Road, Capuchins Street and Crucifix Hill.  Two killed and 12 injured.

1824 hrs  Numerous JU 88s and ME 109s are engaged by guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery: 10 hits claimed.  One JU 88 recedes smoking badly.  6 JU 88s drop bombs on Luqa aerodrome, damaging a cookhouse, the NAAFI, motor vehicles, wireless and electrical equipment.  One transit Beaufighter, five Hurricanes and a Spitfire of the photo-reconnaissance unit are damaged.  East Safi approach is rendered impassable.

1843 hrs  All clear.

2014-0710 hrs  11 bombers: JU 88s and Italian BR20s come in singly.  Raiders are engaged by Ack Ack.  Only one drops bombs on land, near Zonkor Point.  One Beaufighter is up but does not intercept.  Two Hurricanes 1435 Flight are airborne from Ta Qali from 0130 hrs: Sgt Wood damages one unidentified enemy aircraft.

Military casualties  Gunner William Bowen, Bombardier Stanley Nunn, Gunner Sidney Self, all 4th Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery; John Terrill, Driver, Royal Army Service Corps.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Gianninu Psaila, age 12.  Hamrun  Joseph Borda, age 82; Paul Cassar, age 43; Jane Farrugia, age 50.  Marsa  Anthony Pizzuto, age 38.  Paola  Joseph Curmi, age 38.  Qormi  Salvo Agius, age 68.  St Paul’s Bay  John Grech, age 28.  Tarxien  George Borg, age 63; Antonia Borg, age 56; Cetta Borg, age 25; Mary Borg, age 18; Francis Busuttil, age 44; Mary Busuttil, age 38; Rose Busuttil, age 18; John Busuttil, age 13; Joseph Busuttil, age 7; Michael Cilia, age 31; Paola Falzon, age 38; Mary Falzon, age 11; Concetta Falzon, age 9; Giorgina Formosa, age 56; Carmela Formosa, age 31; Maria Annunziata Muscat, age 26; Lewis Muscat, age 3; Rose Muscat.  Valletta  Paula Abela, age 55.  Zejtun  Anthony Spiteri, age 54.  Zurrieq  Anna Schembri, age 75.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 6 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Urge returned from patrol in Tyrrhenian, having sunk one 6″ cruiser, shelled a merchant vessel and blown up a train.  Upholder proceeded for patrol west of Tripoli, and P34 on the Calabrian coast.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufighter, three Blenheims, one Hudson, four Beauforts, three Wellingtons from Gibraltar; one Blenehim, one Beaufort, ten Hurricanes from Gambut.  Departures  One Maryland to Gibraltar; two Hudsons, five Wellingtons, one Beaufort, three Blenheims, one Beaufighter to 108 MU.

LUQA  One Beaufort overshoots the runway at Luqa airfield, crashes and bursts into flames, killing the entire crew.  1015-1110 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance locally.  Photos taken of Grand Harbour, St Patrick’s Hospital.  1116-1150 Photos of Luqa aerodrome and dispersals.  1610-1630 hrs  Hal Far, Ta Qali, Grand Harbour, Kalafrana, W/T Station Luqa.  1330-1730 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance Vibo Valincia, Naples, Reggio Calabria aerodromes and Africa Depot at Naples.

TA QALI  Several scrambles during the day: no interceptions.  Aerodrome serviceable on runway.  Extension repairs still necessary.  Almost all buildings destroyed.  Many attempts to salvage gear and equipment carried out between raids.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT 0800 hrs Work on Pampas starts again.  Heavy raids Grand Harbour again: damage extensive in the Dockyard.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  A, B and part of HQ Company on working Ta Qali; C and D training.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 24; dealt with 12(3 x 50kg; 7 x 250kg; 2 x 500kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Five hand grenades are dropped on the Mellieha area.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT Working party of 200 Other Ranks and 3 Officers building protective walls for aircraft at Hal Far.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  The Battalion less E Company were on manoeuvres, attacking the 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment defences on Mellieha and Marfa Ridges.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Several sticks of bombs around Battalion HQ.  Two elephant shelters are demolished: no casualties.

 

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

 

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