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16 May 1942: Spitfires Claim 137 Bandits in First Week

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MILITARY SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 16 MAY 1942 

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

MOST SECRET

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 MAY TO DAWN 17 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.  Warm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1252 hrs  Raiders passed.

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

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

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

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

1617 hrs  Raiders passed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 16 MAY 1942

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

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

TA QALI  NAAFI opened at Boschetto Gardens.

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

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working parties (Luqa and Ospizio) as usual.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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12 May 1942: Luftwaffe Fight Back – 9 Spitfires Lost

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  • Enemy losses 5 destroyed, 3 probably destroyed, 7 damaged 
  • RAF losses 7 Spitfires downed by enemy; 2 damaged on ground

    Savoia-Marchetti SM 84

GOVERNOR & COMMANDER IN CHIEF PRAISES RAF AND ARTILLERY

“I congratulate all the fighting services on their magnificent team work over the week-end and I particularly congratulate the Royal Air Force and the Anti-Aircraft defences on their notable success.  The Lufwaffe has seen that wounded Malta can hit back gamely.”  Signed Gort, General.

BRITISH REPORTER LOST FOR WORDS AFTER TOUR OF MALTA

‘Words do not exist to convey the picture of what has happened in Malta as the result of air raids, so I have tried figures instead,’ writes a correspondent of the British United Press who has just completed a tour of the Island.

Valletta 1942 (NWMA Malta)

‘The following buildings have been destroyed or damaged:  15500 houses (this counts blocks of flats as one house), 70 churches, 18 convents and nunneries, 10 theatres, 22 schools, 8 hospitals, eight of the principal clubs, five of the principal banks, 48 other buildings of which many were world-famous.  75 per cent of the houses of Valletta have been destroyed or damaged and more than 55 per cent of the buildings in most populated areas have been so smashed that complete rebuilding will be necessary.  There is hardly a hamlet on the Island that has not been hit.

The miracle is that the casualties are so low: 1104 killed, 1308 seriously injured, and 1299 slightly injured.  This is due chiefly to underground shelters.’  British United Press, Sunday 10 May 1942

AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 MAY TO DAWN 13 MAY 1942

Weather  No cloud; haze.

0605 hrs  One JU 88 with an escort of ME 109s carries out reconnaissance.

0615-0720 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept reconnaissance formation: no interceptions.

0946 hrs  Two ME109s are in the vicinity of the Island attempting to intercept a photo-reconnaissance Spitfire.  Two Spitfires 126 and 601 Squadron are scrambled to intercept the ME 109s: no engagements; they land at 1030 hrs.

1052 hrs  Three JU 88s with a fighter escort of over 35 ME 109s approach the Island from the south east and bomb Hal Far aerodrome.

1055-1207 hrs  Eight Spitfires 601 and 126 Squadrons are airborne from Luqa and engage in combat with enemy aircraft off Kalafrana with ME 109s: no claims.  One Spitfire is shot down; pilot unhurt.  One Spitfire crash-lands; pilot unhurt.  One bailer out is seen bearing 45 degrees off Grand Harbour.

1110 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron and eight Spitfires 603 Squadron attack JU 88s with fighter escort.  F/O West probably destroys one JU 88 and damages another.  P/O Linton damages one JU 88.  Sgt Hesselyn damages one ME 109 and destroys another.  P/O Mitchell is shot down in the sea and is missing.  Sgt Brennan is slightly wounded.  The remainder land at 1205 hrs.

1113 hrs  Seven Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept incoming enemy aircraft.  P/O Wigley damages one JU 88 and Sgt Yarra destroys one ME 109.  Owing to a bad crosswind at Hal Far, six of the Spitfires land at Luqa at 1216 hrs, without damage or casualties.

1139 hrs  Two JU 88s bomb Hal Far, causing no damage or casualties.

1140 hrs  One JU 88 is engaged by three guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery: no claims.

Three ME 109s carry out a patrol.

1344 hrs  Raiders passed.

1555 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialize.

1700 hrs  A formation of three Italian Savoia Marchetti SM 84 bombers with fighter escort approaches the Island.  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron, are scrambled from Ta Qali to intercept the incoming aircraft.

1705 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 126, 601 and 185 Squadrons are airborne from Luqa.  Sgt McConnell claims one Macchi 202 probable; Sgt Graves claims one JU 88 probable; Sgt Lusty claims one ME 109 damaged.  Two Spitfires are lost in combat: P/O Graves is unhurt but Sgt Graysmark is killed.  Sgt Bush receives gunshot wounds and his aircraft is damaged.  P/O Baily’s aircraft is damaged but he is unhurt.

1715 hrs  The Spitfires of 603 Squadron attack three SM 84 bombers high over Ta Qali as they attempt to bomb the airfield.  F/O Mitchell and F/L Sanders claim one SM 84 and P/O Sherwood another.

1735 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Ta Qali from a high level.  Four parachutes are seen falling from the sky.

1745 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron from Ta Qali are airborne on patrol as three JU 88s with fighter escort approach to bomb the aerodrome.  F/O Lee damages one ME 109.  F/Sgt Williams damages one JU 88.  One Spitfire is slightly damaged.

1749 hrs  Six Hurricanes 229 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept enemy aircraft.  All fire guns but make no claims.  Sgt Vidler lands at Luqa.  The other aircraft land at Hal Far at 1850 hrs.

1815 hrs  One section of 603 Squadron is waiting to take off from Ta Qali when the red flag goes up calling the operation to a halt.  The aerodrome is bombed, damaging two Spitfires on the ground.

1830 hrs  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron and three Spitfires 602 Squadron are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.  One Spitfire 601 Squadron engages one ME 109: no claims.

1942 hrs  All clear.

Night  Four alerts are sounded for ten enemy aircraft.  Bombs, including incendiaries, are dropped on Rinella, Salina Bay, St Pauls and Mellieha, and in the sea.

2159-2315 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft: claims one JU 88 destroyed.

0100-0130 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on patrol: no interceptions.

Military casualties  Sergeant Charles Graysmark, Pilot, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 601 Squadron; Pilot Officer Herbert Mitchell, Royal New Zealand Air Force, 603 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Mosta  Joseph Schembri, age 11.

Enemy casualties  Aviere Scelto Francesco Carabellese, pilot; Primo Aviere Luigi Conte, Air Gunner; Averie Scelto Sergio Orsingher, crewman; Primo Aviere Gustavo Petrai, crewman; Sergente Eugenio Rivolta, crewman, Tenente Vinicio Vego Scocco, pilot; all shot down while crew of Savoia Marchetti S 84 aircraft of 14a Squadriglia, 4o Gruppo Autonomo, Regia Aeronautica.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 12 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  The Greek submarine Triton sailed for Alexandria at 0030 with passengers.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Five Wellingtons, two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Wellingtons to 108 MU; one Lodestar to Heliopolis.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down in the sea off Malta; pilot safe.  One Spitfire missing from operations; pilot missing.  One Spitfire force-landed; pilot injured.  One Spitfire shot down into the sea; pilot safe.  One Spitfire crashed on landing; pilot uninjured.  Two Spitfires collide on the runway during scramble; pilots uninjured.  One Spitfire damaged by enemy aircraft; crashed on landing; pilot uninjured.  ONe Spitfire shot down into the sea; pilot killed.

LUQA  No bombs on the aerodrome.

TA QALI  1350-1430 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron and two Spitfires 603 Squadron from Ta Qali patrol along the Sicilian coast at 31000 feet.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  2355 hrs 4th Bn The Buffs became embodied in Western Infantry Brigade.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working parties four Officers and 100 Other Ranks for Luqa.  A Coy party 1 Officer and 33 Other Ranks still working at the Ospizio.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 3; dealt with 14 (2 x 500kg, 5 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg, 2 x 35kg, 1 Italian AP container).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 trucks, 16 Officers and 297 Other Ranks building pens and filling craters on Hal Far aerodrome.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Chief task of unit during this period is maintaining Luqa aerodrome.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Unit supplied a working party of 150 men on Ta Qali aerodrome.

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

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2017 in 1942, May 1942, Uncategorized

 

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

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

    JU 87 Stuka

THE FIERCEST AERIAL ATTACK THE WORLD HAS EVER KNOWN

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

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

HMS Welshman

WELSHMAN SURVIVES TO DELIVER VITAL SUPPLIES

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

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

Unloading HMS Welshman (IWM GM 1377)

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

British Pathe News: Supplies for Malta CLICK HERE

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 MAY TO DAWN 11 MAY 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anti-aircraft guns open barrages on incoming aircraft.

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

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

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

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

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

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

1138 hrs  Raiders passed.

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

1330 hrs  Unloading of Welshman is complete.

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

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

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

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

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

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

1555 hrs  Raiders passed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

One JU 88 carries out reconnaissance over the Island.

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

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

1950 hrs  Raiders passed.  Malta fighters land.

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

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

2130 hrs  HMS Welshman leaves Grand Harbour.

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

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

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

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

Civilian casualties  Nil

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

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 10 MAY 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working parties continued.

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

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4 May 1942: Pilots Watch Helpless as Spitfire Ace Shot Down in Flames

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Flt Lt Norman MacQueen

FIGHTER PILOTS LOOK ON AS FIGHTER ACE ATTACKED

RAF fighter pilots at Ta Qali had to watch helplessly as one of their comrades was jumped by a German fighter this afternoon.  Flight Lieutenant Norman MacQueen was one of eight Spitfire pilots scrambled to intercept a heavily protected formation of Italian bombers attacking Grand Harbour.  He was heading back towards Ta Qali from where his comrades watched as he was jumped by a Messerschmitt fighter.

“Norman was flying with another Spitfire and about to attack some 109s, when we saw a 109 sweep across the sky behind him.  Vainly we shouted, ‘Turn! Spit!’ as if there was some hope that he might hear us.  But evidently neither of them saw the 109 and just kept straight on.  We saw the 109’s tracer going right into Norman’s machine.  His spitfire lurched and gave up a thin smoke trail.  For some time it seemed to be under control and circled downwards as if he hoped to land.  Then suddenly the nose went forward, and the machine dived like a stone into the ground, bursting into flames as it hit.” 

The award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to Flight Lieutenant Norman MacQueen was announced in the London Gazette on 1 May 1942. (1)

MALTA HAS NEW INFANTRY BRIGADE

A new Infantry Brigade as been formed today, increasing the Malta Command structure from three Infantry Brigades to four.  The Western Infantry Brigade is now added to the Central, Northern and Southern Brigades to improve efficiency and coverage across the Island.  The new Brigade will include 4th Bn The Buffs (Royal East Kent) Regiment, 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry and 8th Bn Kings Own Royal Regiment, whose former Commanding Officer, Lt Col F G R Brittorous, DSO, MC, takes over command of the new Brigade.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 MAY TO DAWN 5 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly.

0703-0737 hrs  One JU 88 and four ME 109 carry out a reconnaissance patrol across the Island.  They are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack: no claims.

1013 hrs  The air raid alert is sounded for plots of enemy aircraft approaching the Island.

1025 hrs  Six enemy fighters approach from the south east and attack Marsaxlokk Bay.  Four ME 109 fighter bombers drop bombs near a trawler and an oil barge in the Bay.  Bombs also land on Wolseley Camp and near the camp Battery.  Guns of E Coy 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt engage two ME 109s which are seen to leave the Island smoking.  Guns of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt engage one ME 109: hits claimed.

1038-1047 hrs  Six JU 88s escorted by ME 109s attack Luqa aerodrome and the Safi strip.  Bombs on the main airfield explode near three defence posts: one 15 cwt lorry is destroyed.  A working party of 11th Bn Lancashire Regt engages the attacking aircraft with light machine guns, claiming damage to two JU 88s.  Bombs explode either side of their position: 2/Lt Angell and Cpl Latchem are slightly hurt.  Twelve bombs are dropped on Safi strip.

1110 hrs  All clear.

1621 hrs  The air raid alert is sounded for incoming formations of enemy fighters and bombers.

1626 hrs  Four ME 109 fighter bombers with fighter escort carry out a repeat dive-bombing attack on Marsaxlokk Bay.  This time bombs score a direct hit on the oil barge and sink it. Bombs are also dropped on Wolseley Camp, damaging a guard room and a gas decontamination centre.

Guns of Fort Ta Silch engage two ME 109s flying east to west at 50 feet.

1645 hrs  Three JU 88s bomb Pieta, Manoel Island and Floriana.

1650 hrs  Three JU 88s carry out a dive-bombing attack on the Hal Far area.  Only one bomb falls within the perimeter of the aerodrome, damaging one Swordfish aircraft.

1650-1700 hrs  Five JU 88s at 2-3000 feet and three ME 109s at 50-300 feet are engaged by seven guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.  One gun claims one ME 109 damaged.

1715 hrs  Raiders passed.

1740 hrs  Four Spitfires are scrambled from Luqa and four from Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept an incoming formation of enemy aircraft.  They are unable to reach the height of the five Cant 1007s who come with a close escort of Macchi 202s at 21000 feet.  14 ME 109s engage the Spitfires.  F/Lt MacQueen, 249 Squadron (Ta Qali), is fired at by a ME 109.  His machine crashes near Naxxar and explodes.  Sgt Brennan (Ta Qali) probably destroys one ME 109.  Sgt McConnell (Luqa) engages ME 109s but is hit in the radiator; the pilot is unhurt.

1750 hrs  Five Cant 1007 bombers drop bombs between Corradino and Paola from a high level.  Ack Ack guns destroy one enemy aircraft and damage one.

1815 hrs  Raiders passed.  All seven remaining Spitfires land at Ta Qali.

1930 hrs  A Spitfire on transit from Gibraltar to Malta overshoots the runway and crashes, slightly damaging the aircraft.

Night  Two short alerts: bombs in the south east of the Island and in the sea off Grand Harbour.

2250 hrs  Air raid alert.  A Wellington aircraft on transit from Gibraltar to Malta stalls while coming in to land at Luqa and crashes.  The aircraft is written off but the crew are unhurt.

2305 hrs  Air raid alert.  Incendiaries are reported south of Fort Ta Silch.

2310 hrs  All clear.

Military casualties  Flight Lieutenant Norman MacQueen, DFC, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 249 Squadron; Gunner James Ancient, 186 Battery, 74 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Private Saviour Bonello, 2nd Battalion, King’s Own Malta Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Naxxar  Carmelo Schembri, age 14.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 4 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Captain (S), Tenth Submarine Flotilla and staff left for Alexandria by air.  Oil lighter and tug C308 at Marsaxlokk machine gunned by ME 109s, only slight damage was caused, but during a later raid, the oil lighter was dive bombed and sunk.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Blenheims, two Spitfires, two Wellingtons, one Hudson, one Beaufort from Gibraltar; one Hudson from Gambut.  Departures  Three Wellingtons to 108 MU; one Hudson to Gibraltar; one Hudson to Heliopolis.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington crashed on landing; crew uninjured.  One Spitfire shot down: pilot killed.

LUQA  0810-0945 hrs  One Spitfire on photo-reconnaissance of Italian aerodromes.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  1800-2400 hrs  Working party at Ta Qali continues.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Exercise continues.  There has been no action.  Troops have just “stood to” morning and evening.  1800 hrs  Exercise finishes; Bn stands down and we revert to normal.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 8; dealt with 21(4 x 500kg, 14 x 250kg, 2 x 50kg, 1 x Italian anti-personnel bomb container).

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  0500 hrs  Exercise “Stand to” down.  0730 hrs  Luqa working parties continued.   1800 hrs  Exercise “Stand to” completed.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Our Commanding Officer Lt Col F G R Brittorous, DSO, MC was given command of the new Western Infantry Brigade, consisting of 4 Buffs, 1st Durham Light Infantry and 8 Kings Own.

(1) Diary of Squadron Leader Lord David Douglas-Hamilton, Blackwood’s Magazine, May 1944

 

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2 May 1942: Malta Braced for Invasion – Time Bomb Terror Kills 21

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EXERCISE MASKS REAL INVASION FEARS

Luftwaffe view of Malta

Orders for a “Stand To” issued to all units yesterday as a military exercise are now believed to be early preparations for an enemy invasion.  Reports have filtered down to Battalion Commanders that the Germans are building up forces in Italy.  The recent Luftwaffe blanket bombing activity against Malta followed by the present lull adds to impressions that the enemy is preparing to invade.  The Island’s garrison is therefore in a state of readiness, while reconnaissance missions continue to monitor the situation in Sicily and on the Italian mainland.

TIME BOMBS CREATE ROUND THE CLOCK DANGER

Several delayed action bombs were dropped on the communities of Zejtun and Tarxien today by Luftwaffe Junkers 88 bombers.  Time bombs landed to the south of the road from Zejtun to Tarxien road but did not detonate until after the All Clear.  Several houses were destroyed, 21 civilians killed and 30 wounded by the blasts.

Reports have come in of several other explosions today while no air raids were in progress.  The blasts are an indication of the widespread use of delayed action bombs during last night’s air raids.  The enemy appears to have adopted a new tactic of using single aircraft to drop time bombs across a wide range of targets, bringing many areas to a standstill until the unexploded bomb can be dealt with.  An unreported bomb exploding seemingly at random causes widespread alarm, let alone the risk of injury and death to passers by.  The number of unexploded bombs reported to Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal has risen from 3 yesterday to 32 today.  Who knows how many more time bombs lie as yet undetected, ready to explode at any moment?

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 MAY TO DAWN 3 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind wouth-westerly; 100% cloud.

0905-0910 hrs  Messerschmitt 109 fighters carry out a patrol south of the Island.

0925 hrs  A delayed-action bomb explodes behind a coal dump at Hal Far, injuring a soldier of Kings Own Malta Regiment.

1028 hrs  Two JU 88s escorted by ME 109s approach the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1045 hrs  The JU 88s drop eight bombs near Zejtun Church and on houses south of Zejtun-Tarxien road.  Many of the bombs do not explode on impact.  They detonate later, destroying several houses, killing 21 civilians and wounding 30.

1200 hrs  Corporal Ingram, B Coy, 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt is injured by an exploding delayed action bomb.

1717-1835 hrs  Six JU 88s, ten ME 109s and some Macchi 202s carry out a medium level dive bombing raid on Luqa and the Safi strip.  One Maryland is damaged and one Wellington burned out.  Hagiar Qim gun position is also attacked, killing one Other Rank and wounding four, and damaging equipment.  Spitfires are airborne and engage enemy aircraft, damaging one ME109.  3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt also engage a low-flying JU 88: hits claimed.

2121 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which drops bombs inland from Valletta.

2209 hrs  One aircraft descends to 2000 feet over Grand Harbour, showing navigation lights, but drops bombs in the sea.

2315 hrs  One Beaufort aircraft arriving from Gibraltar crashes on landing at Luqa aerodrome.  The aircraft is written off; the crew are unhurt.

0020 hrs  One Hudson aircraft from Gambut crashes on landing at Luqa.  The aircraft is written off; the crew are unhurt.

Military casualties  John Psaila, Steward, HMS St.Angelo; Gunner Henry Barrett, 4 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Hamrun  Giovanna Borg, age 76.  Kirkop  Leonardo Cassar, age 76.  Mdina  Sister Rosaria Abela, age 82. Zejtun  Carmela Abela, age 14; Saviour Baldacchino, age 55; Saviour Bellotti, age 52; Tarcisio Bonnici, age 12; Rosario Bugeja, age 65; Mary Camilleri, age 68; Gracie Felice, age 14; Mary Rose Felice, age 5; Spira Fenech, age 46; Giuseppa Fenech, age 11; Victoria Fenech, age 10; Francis Frendo, age 30; Saviour Galea, age 17; Joseph Harris, age 11; Emanuel Hyzler, MD, age 56; Giuseppe Mamo, age 68; Calcedonio Palmier, age 40; Giuseppe Piscopo, age 75; Gaetana Portelli, age 60; Francesca Schembri, age 30; Emanuel Zammit, age 24.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 2 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  A doubtful sighting report of a submarine was received from a beach post, but not confirmed.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufort, one Catalina from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Wellingtonto 108 MU; one Sunderland to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort Mk I crashed on landing: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  0030 hrs  Albacore X sighted a convoy of two merchant vessels with two destroyers 140 degrees 14 miles Lampion.  Albacore C scored a hit on one merchant vessel.  Both aircraft landed back at 0430 hrs.

LUQA  1205-1305 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance of Sicilian aerodromes.  2032-0500 hrs  One Wellington SD Flight sent in co-opereation with Albacores fro m Hal Far to locate and bomb northbound convoy.  Direct hit on destroyer of convoy consisting of one merchant vessel and one destroyer.  Albacores not seen.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Exercise continues: likely to last 72 hours.  Not exactly an exercise as there is a possibility of invasion as the Germans are building up forces in Italy.  Battalion remained manning posts and rebuilding and improving where possible.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 27; dealt with 4 (1 x 250kg, 3 x 50kg).

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Private Williams HQ Coy received injury (bomb splinter wound in back) when engaged with night working party on Hal Far aerodrome.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1845 hrs  Luqa working parties at night cancelled.  To continue during the day.  1945 hrs  Exercise “Stand To” dusk.

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1 May 1942: 110 Enemy Aircraft Destroyed by Malta Guns

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Valleta from Kingsgate (Porta Reale) 1 May 1942

GOVERNOR CONGRATULATES ROYAL ARTILLERY ON 110 ENEMY AIRCRAFT DESTROYED IN APRIL

The Palace, Malta, 1/5/42 

“Dear Beckett, My best congratulations to the [Ack Ack] Gunners for reaching their century last month.  A very fine show – of which all concerned may be proud.  What about a double century this month?  There is an extra day in it, Yours ever, W G S Dobbie

ENEMY BOMBERS TARGET AIRFIELD WORKING PARTIES

Luftwaffe bombers carried out a series of individual bombing raids overnight across the Island but mainly concentrated on Luqa aerodrome.  The enemy is evidently targeting Army working parties now operating at night on repairs and the construction of pens to shelter fighter aircraft.

A high percentage of delayed action bombs have been used in the raids.  The intention has clearly been to disrupt the construction effort, as work has to be suspended during attacks and afterwards, until all delayed-action bombs have been rendered safe.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 MAY TO DAWN 2 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; 80% high cloud.

0627 hrs; 0722 hrs; 0955 hrs; 1324 hrs; 1408 hrs; 1551 hrs  Alerts are sounded for a total of 22 ME 109s on patrol; only two cross the coast.  Two Spitfires are airborne to intercept; they destroy one ME 109 and damage two others.

1615 hrs  A delayed action bomb explodes near the cook house of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment: no casualties.

1618 hrs  Five Cant 1007 Bs escorted by ME 109s and Macchi 202s approach the Island.  Malta’s fighters are airborne, destroying one ME 109 is destroyed by fighters.  One Spitfire is shot down in combat injuring the pilot, Flt Sgt Jack Rae, who survives.

1650 hrs  The five Cant bombers drop 40 1000kg bombs on Luqa and surrounding areas, including Giacomo and Ta Salib cross-tracks.

1728 hrs  One ME 109 is destroyed by Ack Ack light machine gun fire from 4th Bn Hampshire Regt B Company and D Company (16 Platoon).  The aircraft crashes in Kalafrana Bay.

1800 hrs  Bombs dropped on Hal Far.

1829 hrs  All clear.

Night  A continuous series of air raids by 30 single JU 88 bombers over the Island, using many delayed-action bombs.  Bombs are dropped on Luqa, Hal Far, Grand Harbour, Ta Qali, Rabat, Birzebbuga, Attard, Jebel Ghauzara, San Biagio, Mosta and in the sea.  Several houses are destroyed.  Searchlights effect six illuminations and fighters engage the enemy but no claims made.  Heavy Ack Ack also engage.

Four Hurricanes from Hal Far are scrambled three times during the night to intercept enemy raiders.  Sgt Yarra engages a JU 88 twelve miles north east of Grand Harbour and gets home a long burst of machine gun fire.  Operations report that the plot fades 37 miles north.

2004 hrs; 0030 hrs  Two unidentified aircraft (JU 88s) carry out shallow dive-bombing attacks on Luqa aerodrome, dropping several delayed-action bombs.  One Beaufighter of Malta Night Fighter Unit is burned out.

2155 hrs  One aircraft drops bombs in Wied has Saptan.

2216 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Hal Far.

0004 hrs  Bombs are dropped on the Safi strip.

0101 hrs  Bombs are dropped near Gudja Camp, Loreto Church and San Nicola Church.

0444 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Hal Far and in Wied has Saptan.

0505-0512 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Luqa and Hal Far.  An unexploded delayed-action bomb is reported at Luqa.  One Hurricane is damaged and one soldier injured at Hal Far.

Military casualties  Gunner Thomas Brodie, 32 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Lance Corporal Victor Torpiano, 3rd Battalion, King’s Own Malta Regiment.

Civilian casualties  NIL

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 1 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  ML 126 carried out anti E Boat patrol.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Five Wellingtons, one Sunderland from Gibraltar; one Hudson from Gambut.  Departures  Three Wellingtons, three Hudsons, one Beaufort to 108 MU.  Aircraft casualties  One Hudson crashed on landing: crew uninjured.  One Spitfire crashed after combat: pilot injured.

HAL FAR  Four Hurricanes came to readiness for night flying.

LUQA  No operations during daylight.  2055-0335 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight to locate and strike on enemy convoy.  Two merchant vessels and one destroyer sighted but then lost as special equipment deteriorated in effeciency.  No attack made.

TA QALI  All sleeping out passes are cancelled.  Reduced scale of rations came into force.

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Exercise “Stand to” received from Command: the exercise lasted 72 hours.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Companies busy on administration and interior economy.  D Company 1 Officer  40 Other Ranks salvaging at Ospizio Ordnance Depot. Exercise “Stand to” received from Fortress HQ.  2040 hrs  Bn reported in position.  No information about the exercise received as yet.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  1800 hrs Bn receives “Exercise Stand To” from Brigade, the exercise to last for 72 hours.  Forward Bn HQ was manned and Companies tightened up their defence schemes etc and laid mines, except on main roads.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 4; dealt with 2 (1 x 1800kg, 1 x 250kg).

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Reduction in scale of ration issues in full force: effect felt.  1800 hrs  This unit mans Observation Post Tal Minsia.  1815 hrs  Exercise “Stand to” given.  Possibility of genuine alarm.  2000 hrs  Luqa working parties continued.  Steady bombing of Luqa working parties overnight by single planes: no casualties.  0500 hrs  Exercise “Stand to” down.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  1730 hrs  Warning order Exercise “Stand to” in force from 1800 hrs.  D Coy moved to Ta Kandia.  Luqa day and night working parties continue.  Stand to daily at 0514 hrs and 1945 hrs.

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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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