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25-31 October 1942: Turning Point in War Over Malta

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25 October 1942:  Enemy Air Attacks Declining

JU 88 bombers have gone from Malta’s skies

The enemy’s latest attempt to neutralise Malta appears to have lost momentum.  It is now two weeks since Axis forces launched heaviest bombing raids since April.   In that time some 350 aircraft have been destroyed or damaged by the Island’s defenders – including forty bombers.  Despite the concentration of bombs aimed at the three airfields, none of the runways has been put out of action for more than 30 minutes.

Since 18 October no twin-engined aircraft have approached the Island and attacks have been limited to ‘tip and run’ raids – often at high level – by heavily escorted fighter bombers.  Their only advantage has been provided by frequent heavy cloud over the Island, which has allowed the few successful raiders to get through, and provided cover for those attempting to escape Malta’s fighters.

During today the enemy carried out fighter sweeps and four fighter bomber raids on Ta Qali, Hal Far and Luqa.  140 raiders were involved in attacks, which were launched at heights ranging from 12000 to 3000 feet.  Fighters are now adopting a new tactic of receding at sea level to escape interception by the Island’s Spitfires.  There were no night air raids.

RAIDS DAWN 25 OCTOBER TO DAWN 26 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Mainly fine: fair late evening.

0600-0720 hrs  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are airborne for a raid which does not materialise.

0721-0800 hrs  Air raid alert for 25 enemy fighters including ME 109 fighter bombers approaching the Island.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept but are attacked by enemy fighters out of the sun: no claims.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled and engage the raiders north of Gozo: F/Lt Smith destroys one ME 109; Sgt Hughes probably destroys another. The fighter bombers are forced to jettison their bombs in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

0815-0850 hrs  Air raid alert for 17 plus enemy fighters and fighter bombers approaching the Island.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: F/Lt Parkinson damages one Macchi 202.  Most of the raiders cross the coast and bombs are dropped on Luqa and Ta Qali.

As enemy fighters turn away from the airfield they machine-gun Heavy Ack Ack gun positions.  One ME 109 is destroyed by small arms fire and Light Ack Ack and crashes on the edge of the aerodrome.  One ME 109 is destroyed by Light and Heavy Ack Ack guns off Delimara by Height Control shooting at 18000 feet.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Tal Qali are also airborne and chase enemy fighters to within 20 miles of Sicily but cannot engage them.

0925-0951 hrs  Air raid alert for 15 enemy fighters and fighter bombers which cross the coast, dropping bombs on Hal Far.  Eight Spitfires are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept but were unable to do so due to the enemy’s superior speed.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1110-1200 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1238 hrs  Air raid alert as 25 enemy fighters and fighter bombers approach Malta.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are also scrambled and attempt to engage two Macchi 202s which turn and flee.  The Spitfires chase them to ten miles off the coast of Sicily but are unable to catch them.

1234 hrs  The remaining raiders, about half, cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa, destroying one Beaufighter and damaging a Spitfire on the ground.  Gun position XHB 7 of 4th Heavy Ack Ack Regt RA destroys one ME 109.  Two ME 109 fighter bombers are engaged at 2500 feet by two guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.

1248 hrs  Four fighter bombers drop bombs on the Safi strip, Kirkop and Mqabba village areas.

1300 hrs  Raiders passed.

1350-1445 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol (one returns early): no sightings.

1415-1530 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron, then four 249 Squadron are on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1517 hrs  Air raid alert for the approach of 50 ME 109s and Macchi 202s with fighter bombers.  Ten Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  One Spitfire and pilot, Sgt Park, are missing.   Seven Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept and see three ME 109s but the raiders are too high and distant to intercept.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are also scrambled but fail in their attempt to engage the enemy aircraft, some of which jettison their bombs in the sea.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled and attack Macchi fighters but are jumped from above by other fighters acting as cover: no claims or losses.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.  Some raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa.

1600 hrs  D Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a plane crashed in the sea on the horizon.

1620 hrs  All clear.

1715-1750 hrs  Two Spitfires 126 Squadron are airborne to search for the missing dinghy of Sgt Park but find nothing.

1825-2115 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa takes up the search for the missing dinghy: nothing is found.

1940 hrs  D Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a green verey light 4-5 miles out to sea.

2330-0100 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron is scrambled for a reported raid which does not materialise: no enemy aircraft seen.

Military casualties  Sergeant George Bushnell, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Flying Officer Richard Bendwig, Royal Canadian Air Force; Flying Officer Millard Liebeck, Royal Canadian Air Force; Pilot Officer Nigel Park, Royal New Zealand Air Force, 126 Squadron; Flying Officer Fred Wickstrom, Royal Canadian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Oberleutnant Richard Eckhardt, pilot of a Messerchmitt Bf109 fighter.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 25 OCTOBER 1942

P 35 HMS Umbra

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy swept P 35 in from patrol: the submarine returned to Malta after a four day patrol in which a heavily leaden merchant ship which had beached itself near Homs as a result of an air attack was further damaged by two torpedo hits.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Spitfires, one Hudson, one Liberator from Gibraltar; one DC 3 from LG 224.  Departures  Two Beauforts, one DC 3 to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire failed to return to base: pilot missing.  One Beaufort missing in transit between Malta and LG 224, believed shot down by enemy aircraft: pilot missing.

HAL FAR  One Special Swordfish and one Albacore were sent on anti-submarine patrol north of Homs: nothing seen.

LUQA  One Baltimore 69 Squadron carried out a search for enemy shipping to the east of Benghazi.  One Spitfire 69 Squadron carried out photo-reconnaissance of Cagliari.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Winter Dress came into use today.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  A and B Companies beach post firing at towed target.

26 October 1942: Malta Bombers Back On The Attack

Wellington bomber

Malta bombers have carried out their first attack on an enemy convoy since last Monday night.  Reports were received from reconnaissance aircraft of a southbound convoy off the west coast of Greece and tonight three special Wellingtons of 69 Squadron were sent to attack.

One aircraft returned unserviceable after 14 minutes but the other two pressed on towards the target area.  One of the Wellingtons located the convoy of one tanker and one merchant vessel, both about 5000 tons, 18 miles to the south west of Antipaxos.  The aircraft then lost visibility and had to abandon the attack, bringing its torpedo back to base.  But the third Wellington was able to close in on the convoy and dropped two 1000 lb bombs.  Results are not yet confirmed.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 OCTOBER TO DAWN 27 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Showery.

0629-0742 hrs  One Hurricane from Hal Far searches for a dinghy 8-10 miles north west of Gozo.  A body is seen floating in an uninflated dinghy.  The Hurricane has to return to base due to an incoming air raid.

0654-0750 hrs  Air raid alert for 35 enemy fighters including fighter bombers approaching the Island.  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept and see six ME 109s but they are too distant to engage.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled: P/O McLennan destroys one ME 109.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat: pilot unhurt.  About half the raiders are intercepted by Malta fighters north of the Island and turn back.  The remainder cross the coast and bombs are dropped on Ta Qali.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  One ME 109 is destroyed.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat: pilot unjurt.

0813-0939 hrs  The Hurricane from Hal Far returns to the area where the pilot earlier spotted the dinghy but finds nothing.  The High Speed Launch is seen in the same area.

1039-1120 hrs  Air raid alert for the approach of 35 enemy fighters and fighter bombers.  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept but do not engage.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled and engage the first wave of raiders north of the Island: F/L Rolls probably destroys one ME 109.  As incoming waves of raiders attempt to cross the coast the Spitfires force them to split up: a few get through to drop bombs near Luqa airfield.  Heavy Ack Ack fire and two ME 109 fighter bombers are engaged at 3000 feet by two guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.

1410-1535 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1515-1537 hrs  Air raid alert for the approach of 40 enemy fighters and fighter bombers, including six bomb-carrying ME 109s.  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept but sight nothing.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron are also scrambled and intercept the raiders over the Island: P/O Walton destroys one ME 109; S/L Lovell damages another.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Bombs are dropped near Birzebbuga, Hal Far and Ghar Dalam, where an Ack Ack ammunition dump is hit by a bomb.  60 boxes of ammunition are damaged and the dump is set on fire.  The blaze is quickly extinguished by Sgt Willis and other personnel of D Company, 1st Bn Devonshire Regt and of A Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Reg under Captain Lovering, as well as Royal Artillery personnel.

Night  No air raids.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

HMS Hebe

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 26 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hebe swept P 212 returning from an uneventful patrol in the Cape Dukato area.

AIR HQ  Departures  One Hudson, one Liberator to Gibraltar; one Wellington to Shallufa.

LUQA  One Spitfire 69 Squadron was sent on a shipping search of Pantelleria and Kerkenna.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  B Company took over coast patrol and Tal Virtu observation post.

27 October 1942: RAF Sink Rommel’s Hopes For El Alamein

“The desert was quivering with heat. The gun detachments and the platoons squatted in their pits and trenches, the sweat running in rivers down their dust-caked faces. There was a terrible stench. The flies swarmed in black clouds upon the dead bodies and excreta and tormented the wounded. The place was strewn with burning tanks and carriers, wrecked guns and vehicles, and over all drifted the smoke and the dust from bursting high explosives and from the blasts of guns.”  (1)

British troops on the move in North Africa

Axis hopes of gaining supremacy in the North African suffered a double blow today thanks to Allied forces. Torpedo bombers of 42 Squadron RAF sank an oil tanker at Tobruk, destroying Rommel’s last hope for much-needed fuel supplies.  The Axis sea convoy comprised three merchant ships with four escorting destroyers and escorting planes overhead.  Allied heavy and light bombers and torpedo planes attacked relentlessly in the face of terrific fire from the destroyers. Only one of the supply ships escaped. A large merchantman blew up and the tanker was set on fire and sank.  The sinking follows several successful attacks on tankers by Malta-based air forces.  The German Field Marshal, who arrived back in North Africa on Sunday to resume command of Axis forces, now has only three days’ fuel to supply his armies.

Meanwhile the Allies scored an important victory over enemy tanks at El Alamein.  Having battled throughout the day against two counter-offensives by Rommel’s forces, this afternoon they repulsed a determined attack by Axis Panzer divisions, destroying 22 German and 10 Italian tanks before the remainder gave up.

QRENDI STRIP DEVELOPS

Troops building aircraft pens

200 servicemen are now employed building new pens at Qrendi strip.  The pens will add to the facilities at the recently-opened air strip, significantly extend the capacity for aircraft based on Malta.  The construction work increases the already significant contribution made by the Army to air operations on the Island.  Following the recent increased enemy bombardment, 1000 soldiers are now assisting the RAF in the maintenance of aerodromes, servicing and refuelling aircraft. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 OCTOBER TO DAWN 28 OCTOBER 1942

Weather   Fine: excellent visibility early; electric storm early morning.

0703-0722 hrs  Air raid alert for 24 enemy fighters including six ME 109 fighter bombers approaching Malta.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and engage raiders 15 miles north of the Island: S/Ldr Woods and P/O McCoy each damage one ME 109.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled: no claims.  The remaining raiders cross the coast and approach Ta Qali from the east, dropping bombs on the airfield from a height of 10000 feet.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage: no claims.

0740-0845 hrs  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on intercept patrol: no enemy aircraft seen.

1013-1104 hrs  Air raid alert as 60 ME 109s and Macchi 202s including several ME 109 fighter bombers approach the coast in several waves.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron, four Spitfires 249 Squadron and eight 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but the enemy takes strong evasive action: no claims.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat: pilot slightly injured.  High explosives including delayed action bombs are dropped on Luqa and the Safi strip from about 14000 feet.  One aircraft is destroyed on the ground and another damaged.  One ME 109 is probably destroyed by Light Ack Ack.

1457-1518 hrs  Air raid alert as 40 ME 109s and Macchi 202s including fighter bombers approach the Island at great height.  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and successfully attack 25 fighters and fighter bombers, which they force to jettison their bombs in the sea.  F/Lt McElroy damages one Macchi 202.  The raiders turn back at speed, along with the majority of their escort.  One Spitfire is damaged: pilot slightly injured.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are also airborne but see no enemy aircraft.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.

Night  No air raids.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 27 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  The area between Grand Harbour and St Julian’s Bay was swept on 27th October by the 3rd ML Flotilla, prior to divers working on the submarine telegraph cables. Three mines were disposed of bringing the total destroyed by this flotilla to 100.

AIR HQ  Departures  One DC 3 to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire damaged in enemy action crash-landed: pilot injured.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  AM GOC watched an exercise incorporating practice landings from motorized landing craft.

28 October 1942: Operation Train Brings Reinforcements

HMS Furious

The fast minelayer HMS Welshman also sailed with the convoy carrying emergency supplies for Malta.

ATTACK ON SUBMARINE BASE KILLS THREE

A dive bombing attack on Malta’s submarine base this morning killed three civilians in Sliema.  The raid was the second attempted strike at the base today – the first was beaten off by Malta fighters before the enemy aircraft reached the Island.

The air raid alert just before 9.30 am heralded a second attack by 30 raiders which approached the Island at 27000 feet.  Among them were a dozen ME 109 fighter bombers which swooped down to 12000 feet and then into a shallow dive as they crossed the coast towards their objective in Marsamxetto harbour.  Spitfires engage the raiders as they are still in their dive, causing several to jettison their bombs.  However several bombs did fall on Tigne Barracks, Sliema and Gzira, where three civilians were killed.  Civilian property was also damaged in the raid.

HMS Welshman

The Island was spared a third air raid as the enemy aircraft turned back before coming within 10 miles of the coast.

MALTA WELLINGTONS SINK ANOTHER AXIS TANKER

“The AOC sends personal congratulations to 69 Squadron on its brilliantly executed torpedo attack on the enemy convoy on the night of 28/29th October.”

A very successful attack was carried out tonight against an enemy convoy off the Greek coast.  A reconnaissance Baltimore had earlier reported a convoy of one tanker and a merchant vessel, escorted by three destroyers, off Sapienza.  Three Wellingtons 69 Squadron, one carrying bombs and one carrying torpedoes, were sent to locate and attack the vessels.  The bomb-carrying Wellington returned early with engine trouble and crash-landed, having jettisoned its bombs in the sea.

The other two Wellingtons sighted a tanker and a merchant vessel and went in for the attack.  Pilot Officer Matthews scored a direct hit on the merchant vessel with a torpedo.  Pilot Officer Donkersley arrived on the scene at 2252 hours and found no trace of the merchant vessel.  He aimed his bombs at the tanker, setting it ablaze from stem to stern.  A reconnaissance aircraft inspecting the area later found nothing but wreckage, oil streaks and a half-submerged barrage balloon.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 OCTOBER TO DAWN 29 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Fine; cloudy late evening.

0625-0735 hrs; 0635-0820 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali then eight from Hal Far on intercept patrol: no sightings.

0716-0734 hrs  Air raid alert sounds for 40 enemy fighters approaching Malta.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa and nine of 249 Squadron are scrambled and intercept the main formation to the north of the Island.  The Spitfires attempt an engagement from above but the enemy fighters disperse into the clouds and out of sight before heading back to Sicily: no claims.

0924-1001 hrs  Air raid alert as 30 enemy fighters and fighter bombers approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept and fire short bursts at raiders as they head towards Grand Harbour, causing several to drop their bombs.  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron and eight 249 Squadron Ta Qali are also scrambled but do not engage.  P/O Giddings 249 Squadron crashes on take-off and is admitted to hospital with a fractured arm.  The remaining raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on Sliema, Gzira and Tigne Barracks area causing damage to property and civilian casualties.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1045-1140 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1233-1247 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy fighters approaching the Island.  Four Spitfires from Hal Far are conducting a practice flight when they see two ME 109s: they turn to engage but the enemy aircraft evade action.  All the fighters recede before coming within 10 miles of the Island but then recede.

1335-1500 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are on intercept patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties  Chargeman E Wright, HM Dockyard.

Civilian casualties  Gzira  Ritz Falzon, age 19; Carmela Micallef, age 42; Vincenza Rice, age 40.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 28 OCTOBER 1942

LUQA  Spitfires 69 Squadron were despatched on photo-reconnaissance of Navarino, eastern Sicily, Messina, Palermo, Gabini and Pachino.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  1600 hrs  Regiment band playing at Birkirkara.

29 October 1942: German Pilots Sick of Fight For Malta

German aircraft losses dent morale (c) IWM CM 745

The strain of fighting for air supremacy over Malta is clearly beginning to tell on the enemy air forces. “Experienced German pilots who became prisoners of war during this month have admitted to a general distaste among the German air force for fights over Malta.  This reluctance is not surprising when it is seen that, in the course of their unsuccessful October offensive, the Axis powers lost 15 air crew for every British pilot lost.”  War Diary, Air HQ, Malta October 1942

SPITFIRES AND SUPPLIES

Twenty nine Spitfires were flown off from HMS Furious today and all landed safely at Malta.  Two others remained on board the aircraft carrier due to defects.  Enemy aircraft made some attempts to intercept the incoming aircraft but continuous cover by Spitfires deterred any serious threat.

At the same time, HMS Welshman detached from the convoy ships to make independent passage to Malta.  The fast minelayer carries some 350 tons of much-needed cargo in her holds.  Welshman’s exceptionally fast speed has brought her through several supply missions to the Island and the Dockyard is preparing for a fast unload on her arrival.  After their successful delivery, Furious and her escort ships turned and set course immediately for Gibraltar.

MALTA FLOTILLA GRABS 100TH MINE

The Vice Admiral Malta reported that the Third Motor Launch Flotilla in addition to their many other valuable services had swept up their hundredth mine in the approaches to Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 OCTOBER TO DAWN 30 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Fine; almost cloudless.

0750-0855 hrs  Eight Spitfires Hal Far patrol over the Island: no enemy aircraft sighted.

0910-1010 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are on intercept patrol:  no sightings.

0956-1120 hrs  Air raid alert.  42 enemy fighters approach the Island from the north in five formations of six and three formations of eight aircraft each.  They attempt to intercept delivery Spitfires as they come in to land.  Malta fighters are airborne but the enemy recede before engaging.  The delivery Spitfires land safely.

1020-1125 hrs  Seven Spitfires Hal Far patrol over Grand Harbour area: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1100-1230 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1232-1310 hrs  Air raid alert for a small number of enemy fighters on a high fighter sweep.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagements.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1339-1345 hrs  Eight delivery Spitfires land at Hal Far.

1849-1910 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which approach the Island at 22-25000 feet and drop bombs in the sea three miles north of the Island.  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa patrols to the north of Malta but sees nothing.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Walter Parks, Royal Australian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Naxxar  Emanuel Grech, age 52.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 29 OCTOBER 1942

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties  Two Spitfires crashed into construction on taking off: one pilot injured, one killed.

LUQA  One Spitfire 69 Squadron was sent on photo-reconnaissance over western Sicily and Pantelleria.  One Spitfire 69 Squadron was sent on photo-reconnaissance of enemy shipping in the area Cape Ducato, Cape St Maria di Leuca and Taranto.  Two special Wellingtons 69 Squadron were sent to attack an enemy convoy sighted by a photo-reconnaissance Spitfire but did not find it.

30 October 1942: RAF Win Latest Battle For Skies Over Malta

B flight RAF 249 Squadron Malta July 42

The skies fell silent over Malta today.  The absence of air raids is an indication that the RAF has finally secured air supremacy over the Island after the failure of the latest enemy bombing campaign.  With strong fighter escort and a small number of bombers, the enemy has tried to neutralise the aerodromes in order to protect the passage of important convoys to Tripolitania and Libya.

During daylight in October the enemy flew a total of about 250 bomber and 3500 fighter and fighter-bomber sorties against Malta.  Spitfires definitely destroyed a total of 49 bombers and 78 fighters.  By night during the month Beaufighters of 89 Squadron made a total of 61 sorties including 15 intruder patrols over enemy aerodromes and harbours.  Five enemy night bombers were destroyed.  Malta’s losses were 38 aircraft destroyed, mainly Spitfires.

The policy adopted by the RAF of intercepting the enemy north of the island has proved eminently successful.  The enemy reverted to high flying tactics using cloud cover; some damage was done to the aerodromes but without any serious impact.  Finding these tactics too costly, the enemy has now left Malta well alone.

AMMUNITION USE AND FUEL RATIONING TIGHTENED

Heavy Ack Ack Brigades have issued orders restricting the firing pattern of anti-aircraft positions.   From today, only guns in certain strategic positions may engage enemy fighter aircraft, and then only by pointers.  However, all gun positions will continue to engage any enemy aircraft clearly identified as bomb-carrying.

Petrol economies are also now being strictly enforced across all Services in Malta as fuel shortages continue to concern the Island’s commanders.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 OCTOBER TO DAWN 31 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Variable becoming fine: cloudless evening.

0740-0830 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1350-1450 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no sightings.

Night  No air raids.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

HMS Rorqual

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 30 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  HMS Rorqual arrived with stores from Beirut, swept in by Rye.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Liberators from Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  1640-1735 hrs  Four Spitfires carried out a reconnaissance patrol over south east Sicily while four others provided cover for their return.

LUQA  One Spitfire 69 Squadron was despatched on photo-reconnaissance of Tripoli.

31 October 1942: 14 Attacks On Axis Convoys

AIR RAID STATISTICS OCTOBER 1942  

  • Total number of alerts to date 3135
  • Total number of alerts this month 152
  • Number of blank days 2
  • Number of night raids 41
  • Raid free nights 19
  • Alerts for own planes 7
  • Total time from air raid alert to raiders passed 4 days, 2 hrs, 11 mins
  • Average length of alert 38.2 mins

    P 246 HMS Statesman

ROYAL NAVY SUMMARY FOR OCTOBER

Twenty seven attacks were carried out from Malta during the month, fourteen of which were successful. Three were against merchant ships already beached after air attacks. Ten merchant vessels, aggregating 23900 tons were sunk as well as one fleet destroyer, a tug, and two schooners.  The strength of the Flotilla was brought up to eleven operational submarines by the arrival of P 212 on 9th October and of P 246 on the 19th.

Four submarines continued store-carrying trips to Malta with petrol and vital supplies from Gibraltar and Beirut.  The First and Tenth Submarine Flotillas carried out many brilliant attacks on Axis convoys and shipping running to Libya. An attack on a heavily escorted southbound convoy of one tanker and three merchant ships bound for Tripoli by five submarines off Pantellaria was particularly noteworthy. Albacore and Swordfish aircraft made many attacks before the convoy ran into the submarine concentration. P 211 sank one merchant vessel, stopped after air attack, P 37 sank a destroyer and one merchant vessel in the convoy, and it possible that P 42 also damaged a merchant vessel. The latter was very accurately counterattacked and damaged, and force to return to Malta.

SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING OCTOBER 31

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

1.  Enemy air activity on a much reduced scale.  16 alerts.  Total 290 Spitfire sorties against 650 enemy sorties.  No alerts after 1300 hrs 29 October.  Raids consisted of fighter bombers heavily escorted.  Many jettisoned their bombs in the sea.  A few bombs on the aerodromes.  Ack Ack dump was set on fire and extinguished by soldiers.  Spitfires destroyed three ME 109s, one Macchi 202; probably destroyed two ME 109s; damaged three ME 109s and one Macchi 202.  Ack Ack destroyed two ME 109s; probably destroyed one ME 109.  Photo reconnaissance shows a general decrease 100 enemy aircraft in Sicily but an increase on western aerodromes, particularly JU 84 (or 87)s.

2.  Eight Wellington sorties against enemy convoys.  One tanker and one merchant vessel sunk.  Two 1000 lb bombs aimed at a vessel, believed a tanker: results unobserved.

3.  Army working parties total about 600 on aerodromes and 200 men building the new Qrendi landing strip.  Minor combined operations training being carried out with MLCS.

4.  Military damage negligible.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 OCTOBER TO DAWN 1 NOVEMBER 1942

0755-0830 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no raid materialised; no sightings.

1100-1135 hrs  Four Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept a possible approaching air raid which does not materialise.

1630 hrs  The regimental band and drums of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment Beat the Retreat at Sliema.  His Excellency the Governor and GOC Troops is in attendance.

Military casualties  Private Raymond Hurley, 2nd Battalion, Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment; Lance Corporal Gerald Tarr, 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 31 OCTOBER 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One DC 3 from Middle East.  Departures  One Liberator to Gibraltar; one Liberator to LG 224.

HAL FAR  0630-0735 hrs  Four Spitfires patrolled over south east Sicily: nothing sighted.  2135-0235 hrs  One special Swordfish and two strike Albacores searched for shipping between Tripoli and Homs: no sightings.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Lance Corporal G A Tarr fell down a 30 foot well in Valletta and was killed.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  During the period 22-31 October the Battalion has found two impressed lorries, one motor-cycle and five Other Ranks for work in Hal Far aerodrome.  During daylight two twin Lewis guns have been manned in anti-aircraft defence of the Safi strip.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Private Hurley, A Company, died from multiple injuries caused by falling masonry.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 11.  Dealt with: 9 High Explosives  (3 x 250kg; 7 x 50kg); 173 anti-personnel bombs; 1 oil incendiary.

(1) Alamein, Cecil Ernest Lucas-Phillips, Little Brown & Co, Boston, 1962

 

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14 May 1942: Fighter Aces Lost in Ferocious Battles Over Malta

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PILOT AGED 22 KILLED ON EVE OF HOME LEAVE

John Livingstone “Tony” Boyd

The battle for Malta today lies in the hands of the young fighter pilots of the Allied and Axis air forces, as fierce dog fights continue in the skies over the Island.

At 0915 hours this morning, fighter ace Sergeant John “Tony” Boyd, DFM, was piloting one of three Spitfires of 185 Squadron scrambled from Hal Far to intercept enemy aircraft heading for an attack on Luqa aerodrome.  Over the sea to the ast of Grand Harbour, the Spitfires caught their prey.  Sergeant Boyd attacked a Messerschmitt 109 piloted by Luftwaffe Leutnant Alfred “Martello” Hammer, causing serious damage.  Hammer survived, managing to limp back to Comiso in Sicily, where he crash-landed.  Boyd had to watch as fellow Spitfire pilot Sergeant Colin Finlay was shot down.

Three hours later Tony Boyd was in the air again, as one of four Spitfires sent up to attack a dozen Macchi 202 fighters over Hal Far.  This time, he was not so lucky, as witnessed by Pilot Officer Reade Tilly from the ground:

Alfred “Martello” Hammer

” A dog fight started overhead some 3 Ju88s came in with 109 escort Ack Ack going like mad, bursts all over the sky, then I saw a 109 sit on a Spitfire’s tail and I heard the brrr on cannon. The Spit rolled over and dived vertically in what appeared to be a controlled evasive manoeuvre, doing a series of aileron turns: there was no smoke trail and apparently he was OK but for some reason I felt he’d had it. Sure enough he started to pull out too late at 100 feet, then when it looked as if he would make it, the pilot either died or lost consciousness and ploughed into the deck on the far side of the drome at 300 mph. So at 1305 hrs the career of Sgt. Pilot Tony Boyd came to an abrupt and spectacular end – just a terrific explosion and a long sheet of flame.” (1)

One of the enemy fighters had turned back and got onto Sergeant Boyd’s tail, firing several rounds on target.  He crashed some 250 metres from the perimeter of Luqa airfield and was killed.  Tomorrow was due to be Tony Boyd’s last day in Malta before he returned to England for a period of rest and recuperation.  He was 22 years old.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 MAY TO DAWN 15 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; cold and rough.  Little cloud.

0651 hrs  One JU 88 with an escort of three ME 109s drops one large bomb in Sliema.

0755 hrs  ME 109s patrol to the north of the Island.

0855 hrs  A formation of 24 enemy aircraft approach and fly thirty miles to the south east before turning back towards the Island.

0900 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron and eight Spitfires 249 Squadron from Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept.  F/O West destroys one JU 88 and damages one ME 109.  Sgt Hesselyn destroys one JU 88.  F/Sgt Williams damages one ME 109 and then makes a belly-landing at Ta Qali due to a shortage of petrol.

0907 hrs  13 Spitfires 126 and 601 Squadrons are also scrambled from Luqa to intercept.  P/O Tilly and Sgt Goldsmith each destroy one ME 109.  F/Lt Winfield probably destroys one ME 109.

0915 hrs  Three Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far and intercept a number of ME 109s to the east of Grand Harbour.  Sgt Boyd destroys one ME 109.  Sgt Finlay is shot down and killed.  Remaining Spitfires land 1010 hrs.

Three JU 88s with ME 109 escort drop bombs on Luqa aerodrome, damaging one lorry and wounding one soldier.  Four ME 109 fighter bombers drop bombs on Ta Qali aerodrome.

0940-1004 hrs  ME 109 fighters dive on Hal Far and are engaged by light Ack Ack machine guns of B Coy 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt.  One JU 88 and four ME 109s are engaged by two guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.  One gun claims hits on the JU 88.

1015 hrs  Raiders passed.

1130-1145 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali to intercept ME 109s carrying out a fighter sweep: no engagement.

Caproni Re 2001 Falco

1237 hrs  Three JU 88s approach the Island with an escort of 40 plus fighters, including Italian Caproni Re 2001 (Falco) aircraft.

1245 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are airborne and intercept twelve Macchi 202s carrying out a fighter sweep over Hal Far.  Sgt Ferraby probably destroys one Macchi 202.  Sgt Boyd is shot down and crashes 200 yards from a defence post at the edge of Luqa airfield: he is killed.

1300 hrs  Eight Spitfires 126 and 601 Squadrons are scrambled from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft.  P/O Ingram and F/Lt Barnham claim one JU 88 destroyed; Sgt Goldsmith claims one JU 88 destroyed.

1335 hrs  Five Spitfires 603 Squadron from Ta Qali intercept three JU 88s carrying out a bombing raid on the airfield.  All three are attacked by F/O Mitchell, F/Sgt Hurst and P/O Sherwood: claim three destroyed.  One crashes on the aerodrome and is burned out with no survivors.  Another recedes north, smoking badly.  F/Lt Sanders damages one ME 109.

1350 hrs  Raiders passed.

1713 hrs  Three JU 88s with an escort of forty ME 109s and Macchi 202s approach the Island from the south east and drop bombs in a scattered pattern across the Hal Far, Gudja and Safi areas.

1715 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled but do not engage.

Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron from Ta Qali make contact with the JU 88s after they have dropped their bombs.  F/Lt Buchanan probably destroys one ME 109.  F/Sgt Fox destroys one ME 109 but is himself later shot down into the sea.

One JU 88 receives a direct hit from Heavy Ack Ack.  One baler out lands between two defence posts of 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt.  Personnel of D Coy help to round him up and he is taken to the RAF Guard Room.  He speaks English slightly and receives only slight injuries on landing.

1734 hrs  13 Spitfires 126 and 601 Squadrons from Luqa are scrambled to attack the enemy aircraft.  P/O Tilly destroys one ME 109; S/L Barton probably destroys another.  P/O Tilly and P/O Johnson each damage one ME 109.  One JU 88 is also damaged.

1843 hrs  Raiders passed.

Night  Two alerts sound for three enemy raiders, of which only one crosses the coast.

0045-0115 hrs  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit (MNFU) is airborne on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft: claims one BR 20 destroyed.

0330-0445 hrs  One Beaufighter MNFU is airborne on patrol: no interceptions.

Military casualties  Sergeant John Boyd, DFM, Royal Australian Air Force; Sergeant Colin Finlay, Pilot, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Harold Fox, Royal Canadian Air Force, 249 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Naxxar  Joseph Deguara, age 20.  Sliema  Rosina Busuttil, age 32; Angelo Falzon, age 73; Sarah Falzon, age 67; Alfred Micallef, age 16; Beatrix Scicluna, age 14; Winnie Smith, age 56; Dr Hector Vassallo, LLD, age 41.

Enemy casualties  Hauptman Emil Brain, Pilot, JU 88 bomber; Obergefreiter Herbert Burger, Observer, JU 88, baled out from crashing aircraft and taken prisoner; Gefreiter Rudolf Hertzler, Observer, JU 88; Obergefreiter Rolf Hueppop, Air Gunner, JU 88; Obergefreiter Hermann Koester, Wireless Operator, JU 88; Obergefreiter Ferdinand Lechner, Air Gunner, JU 88; Unteroffizier Johannes Meinel, Air Gunner, JU 88; Unteroffizier Johannes Prokesch, Pilot, JU 88; Unteroffizier Otto Richter, Wireless Operator of JU 88; Feldwebel Gunter Schwerdt, Pilot, JU 88; Obergefreiter Karl Heinz Stadtmann, Observer, JU 88; Feldwebel Paul Stahl, Wireless Operator, JU 88 bomber.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 14 MAY 1942

AIR HQ  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Wellington to 108 MU.  Aircraft casualties  One Lodestar crashed on take-off; crew injured.  Two Spitfires shot down in combat; pilots killed.  One Spitfire shot down in the sea; pilot missing.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  Party of one Officer and 20 Other Ranks filling ammunition belts for aircraft at Ta Qali aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Luqa working party of 50 men continues as yesterday.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Lt C Falzon, No 1 Works Company RE is injured by enemy action and admitted to hospital.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 6; dealt with 9 (1 x 500kg; 7 x 250kg; 1 Italian AP bomb container).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 trucks, 7 Officers and 230 Other Ranks building pens at Hal Far.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Working parties continue building pens at Luqa airfield.

(1) Malta: The Spitfire Year 1942, Christopher Shores and Brian Cull with Nicola Malizia, Grub Street, 1991

 

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

 
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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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30 March 1942: King Honours Royal Malta Artillery

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King George VI

KING GEORGE VI TO BECOME COLONEL IN CHIEF TO MALTA REGIMENT

To:  Governor Malta – 30 March 1942

I have it in command from KING to transmit to you the following message.  Begins.

I have been watching with admiration the stout hearted resistance of all in Malta – Service personnel and civilian alike – to the fierce and constant air attacks of the enemy in recent. Weeks.

In active defence of the Island the Royal Air Force have been ably supported by R.M.A., and it therefore gives me special pleasure, in recognition of their skill and resolution, to assume Colonel in Chief of Regiment.  Please convey my best wishes to all ranks of my new regiment, and assure them of the added pride with which I shall follow future activities. Ends.

GEORGE R I.

From: Governor of Malta – 30 March 1942

May the following be transmitted to His Majesty the King:-

“The Royal Malta Artillery desire to thank your Majesty for the most gracious message conveyed to them and for the signal Honour Your Majesty has been pleased to accord them in becoming Colonel-in-Chief of the Regiment.  They desire to express their loyalty and devotion to Your Majesty’s Person and they will endeavour to prove themselves worthy of the High Honour conferred on them.” Ends.

Jack Shiner, RAAF

SEVEN AUSTRALIAN AIRMEN KILLED ON DELIVERY FLIGHT

Seven Sergeants of the Royal Australian Air Force were lost today, as they attempted to deliver aircraft to Malta.  The airmen were attached to a despatch unit of the Royal Air Force based at Almaza in the Middle East.  Three were from Western Australia: Sgt Harold Janney of Cottesloe, Sgt Conrad Johnson of Kalamunda and Sgt Jack Shiner, of Pallinup.  It is believed they were shot down in an air battle with enemy aircraft as they approached Malta.  After a thorough search they are officially listed as missing, presumed dead.

The Hudson aircraft carrying the other four airmen reached Malta, only to stall on the approach to landing.  The plane went into a tight spin and crashed into the ground where it caught fire, killing all four.  Two were from New South Wales – Sgt Thomas Pollock of Gordon and Sgt Kenneth Riordan of Gosford.  Sgt Alfred Garrett came from Elsternwick, Victoria and Sgt Charles Reed from Mowbray Heights, Tasmania.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 MARCH TO DAWN 31 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; 100% cloud.

Daylight  Four air raid alerts but no aircraft cross the coast. Malta’s fighters damage one JU 88.

2039 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the Torri L’Ahmar and Wardia areas.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  One aircraft drops bombs on Hal Far.

0106 hrs  An approaching formation of aircraft identified as friendly turns out to be hostile and drops bombs in Kalafrana Bay.

0209 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north then recedes south east.

0358 hrs  Two ME 109s patrol 30 miles south of the Island.

0652 hrs  Two ME 109s patrol south of the Island.

2300 hrs  A Hudson aircraft from Gibraltar stalls on coming in to land at Luqa and spins into the ground at the east end of the long runway.  The plane catches fire, killing the crew: Sgt Pollock, Sgt Garrett, Sgt Riordan and Sgt Read.

Military casualties  Sergeant Harold Janney, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF);  Sergeant Conrad Johnson, RAAF; Sergeant Jack Shiner, RAAF; Sergeant Alfred Garrett, RAAF; Sergeant Thomas Pollock, RAAF; Sergeant Charles Reed, RAAF; Sergeant Kenneth Riordan, RAAF.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Louis Fenech, age 64.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 30 MARCH 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Hudsons, two Beauforts, one Wellington, one Beaufighter, one Catalina from Gibraltar.  Departures  Six Beaufighters, seven Wellingtons, one Beaufort, two Blenheims to 108 MU; one Catalina to Lisbon.

LUQA  2355-0340 hrs  One Wellington Transit Flight ASF despatched to attack Catania aerodrome: target not located – bombs dropped through cloud.

TA QALI  Spitfires operating from Luqa: no combats.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  The Battalion took the part of the enemy in a night exercise against 11th Lancs Fusiliers.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Battalion scheme in mobile operations against 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry.

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

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15 July 1941: All-Australian Maryland Crew Lost on Convoy Search

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MARYLAND’S RADIO REMAINS SILENT

Maryland in flightThe all-Australian crew of a Maryland reconnaissance aircraft was reported missing today after the aircraft failed to return from a mission. The Maryland of 69 Squadron was one of several sent to patrol over the Tripoli area to locate an enemy convoy. 

The Maryland’s estimated time of return to base elapsed with no sign of the aircraft. It was later reported that no radio transmission had been heard from the aircraft from the moment of take-off onwards. 

The crew has now formally been reported missing. They have been named as pilot Sergeant Cyril Lee, air gunner Sergeant Jack Neill and observer Sergeant James Simpson.  All are members of the Royal Australian Air Force. 

In a separate incident the observer of a Blenheim sent to attack a Tripoli convoy was hit and killed by anti-aircraft guns over the target. The Blenheim was one of three of 110 Squadron sent to attack a convoy of four merchant vessels with a four-strong destroyer escort.  The observer is named as Sergeant John Broadway of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 JULY TO DAWN 16 JULY 1941

Weather  Sunny and hot.

AM  A formation of about 20 aircraft, approaches Malta and circles to the north.  Malta fighters are scrambled but recede before they make contact with the raiders.

1738-1801 hrs  Air raid alert for two formations of enemy fighters which circle well to the north of the Island. Hurricanes are scrambled but the raiders turn north before any interception.

0104-0155 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which approach from the north and cross the coast over St Paul’s Bay, drop bombs on Baida Ridge and retreat over Ghain Tuffieha, dropping bombs on the camp, injuring one driver and two personnel of 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers.  Bombs are also dropped in the sea nearby.  Hurricanes are scrambled and remain airborne for two hours; no engagement.

0205-0450 hrs Air raid alert for 11 enemy aircraft which approach the Island singly, crossing the coast at various points and dropping bombs apparently indiscriminately, including on Baida Ridge (and in the sea nearby), near Anchor Bay, west of Gudia (and in the sea nearby), in Kalafrana Bay, and on land near Madalena, between Nigret and Lapsi, near Pitkali searchlight station and near Rabat. Searchlights illuminate one raider for two minutes: heavy anti-aircraft fire a barrage; no claims.  Hurricanes are scrambled; no engagement.  Three unexploded bombs are reported by 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers. 

Military casualties  Sergeant John A C Broadway, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 110 Squadron; Sergeant Cyril F Lee, Pilot, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), 69 Squadron; Sergeant Jack Carson Grayson Neill, Air Gunner, RAAF, 69 Squadron; Sergeant James M Simpson, Observer, RAAF, 69 Squadron.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 15 JULY 1941

ROYAL NAVY 830 Squadron Fleet Air Arm 5 Swordfish left to locate convoy off Kerkennah Bank.  Failed to sight due to poor visibility, but torpedoed a wreck off the Bank mistaking it for a ship of the convoy. 2 mines off Tigne and 1 off Viaduct and breakwater successfully countermined.

AIR HQ  Departures 4 Blenheim, 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance Tripoli and patrol to locate convoy (Sgt Lee failed to return).  Maryland patrol to navigate Blenheims to attack on convoy. 110 Squadron 3 Blenheims attacked convoy of 4 merchant ships escorted by 4 destroyers; one merchant ship is destroyed and another badly damaged.  Anti-aircraft guns hit one Blenheim killing the Observer.

HAL FAR  Two Fulmars on ‘intruder operations’ patrolled Catania and released four 20lb bombs which started a fire.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 3.

 

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Posted by on July 15, 2016 in 1941, July 1941

 

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25-31 October 1942: Turning Point in War Over Malta

Malta – World War 2. First visit to maltagc70? CLICK HERE                                                                       For a weekly update direct to your inbox – sign up to follow maltagc70 (see R)

25 October 1942:  Enemy Air Attacks Declining

JU 88 bombers have gone from Malta’s skies

The enemy’s latest attempt to neutralise Malta appears to have lost momentum.  It is now two weeks since Axis forces launched heaviest bombing raids since April.   In that time some 350 aircraft have been destroyed or damaged by the Island’s defenders – including forty bombers.  Despite the concentration of bombs aimed at the three airfields, none of the runways has been put out of action for more than 30 minutes.

Since 18 October no twin-engined aircraft have approached the Island and attacks have been limited to ‘tip and run’ raids – often at high level – by heavily escorted fighter bombers.  Their only advantage has been provided by frequent heavy cloud over the Island, which has allowed the few successful raiders to get through, and provided cover for those attempting to escape Malta’s fighters.

During today the enemy carried out fighter sweeps and four fighter bomber raids on Ta Qali, Hal Far and Luqa.  140 raiders were involved in attacks, which were launched at heights ranging from 12000 to 3000 feet.  Fighters are now adopting a new tactic of receding at sea level to escape interception by the Island’s Spitfires.  There were no night air raids.

RAIDS DAWN 25 OCTOBER TO DAWN 26 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Mainly fine: fair late evening.

0600-0720 hrs  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are airborne for a raid which does not materialise.

0721-0800 hrs  Air raid alert for 25 enemy fighters including ME 109 fighter bombers approaching the Island.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept but are attacked by enemy fighters out of the sun: no claims.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled and engage the raiders north of Gozo: F/Lt Smith destroys one ME 109; Sgt Hughes probably destroys another. The fighter bombers are forced to jettison their bombs in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

0815-0850 hrs  Air raid alert for 17 plus enemy fighters and fighter bombers approaching the Island.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: F/Lt Parkinson damages one Macchi 202.  Most of the raiders cross the coast and bombs are dropped on Luqa and Ta Qali.

As enemy fighters turn away from the airfield they machine-gun Heavy Ack Ack gun positions.  One ME 109 is destroyed by small arms fire and Light Ack Ack and crashes on the edge of the aerodrome.  One ME 109 is destroyed by Light and Heavy Ack Ack guns off Delimara by Height Control shooting at 18000 feet.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Tal Qali are also airborne and chase enemy fighters to within 20 miles of Sicily but cannot engage them.

0925-0951 hrs  Air raid alert for 15 enemy fighters and fighter bombers which cross the coast, dropping bombs on Hal Far.  Eight Spitfires are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept but were unable to do so due to the enemy’s superior speed.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1110-1200 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1238 hrs  Air raid alert as 25 enemy fighters and fighter bombers approach Malta.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are also scrambled and attempt to engage two Macchi 202s which turn and flee.  The Spitfires chase them to ten miles off the coast of Sicily but are unable to catch them.

1234 hrs  The remaining raiders, about half, cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa, destroying one Beaufighter and damaging a Spitfire on the ground.  Gun position XHB 7 of 4th Heavy Ack Ack Regt RA destroys one ME 109.  Two ME 109 fighter bombers are engaged at 2500 feet by two guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.

1248 hrs  Four fighter bombers drop bombs on the Safi strip, Kirkop and Mqabba village areas.

1300 hrs  Raiders passed.

1350-1445 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol (one returns early): no sightings.

1415-1530 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron, then four 249 Squadron are on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1517 hrs  Air raid alert for the approach of 50 ME 109s and Macchi 202s with fighter bombers.  Ten Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  One Spitfire and pilot, Sgt Park, are missing.   Seven Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept and see three ME 109s but the raiders are too high and distant to intercept.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are also scrambled but fail in their attempt to engage the enemy aircraft, some of which jettison their bombs in the sea.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled and attack Macchi fighters but are jumped from above by other fighters acting as cover: no claims or losses.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.  Some raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa.

1600 hrs  D Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a plane crashed in the sea on the horizon.

1620 hrs  All clear.

1715-1750 hrs  Two Spitfires 126 Squadron are airborne to search for the missing dinghy of Sgt Park but find nothing.

1825-2115 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa takes up the search for the missing dinghy: nothing is found.

1940 hrs  D Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a green verey light 4-5 miles out to sea.

2330-0100 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron is scrambled for a reported raid which does not materialise: no enemy aircraft seen.

Military casualties  Sergeant George Bushnell, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Flying Officer Richard Bendwig, Royal Canadian Air Force; Flying Officer Millard Liebeck, Royal Canadian Air Force; Pilot Officer Nigel Park, Royal New Zealand Air Force, 126 Squadron; Flying Officer Fred Wickstrom, Royal Canadian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Oberleutnant Richard Eckhardt, pilot of a Messerchmitt Bf109 fighter.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 25 OCTOBER 1942

P 35 HMS Umbra

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy swept P 35 in from patrol: the submarine returned to Malta after a four day patrol in which a heavily leaden merchant ship which had beached itself near Homs as a result of an air attack was further damaged by two torpedo hits.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Spitfires, one Hudson, one Liberator from Gibraltar; one DC 3 from LG 224.  Departures  Two Beauforts, one DC 3 to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire failed to return to base: pilot missing.  One Beaufort missing in transit between Malta and LG 224, believed shot down by enemy aircraft: pilot missing.

HAL FAR  One Special Swordfish and one Albacore were sent on anti-submarine patrol north of Homs: nothing seen.

LUQA  One Baltimore 69 Squadron carried out a search for enemy shipping to the east of Benghazi.  One Spitfire 69 Squadron carried out photo-reconnaissance of Cagliari.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Winter Dress came into use today.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  A and B Companies beach post firing at towed target.

26 October 1942: Malta Bombers Back On The Attack

Wellington bomber

Malta bombers have carried out their first attack on an enemy convoy since last Monday night.  Reports were received from reconnaissance aircraft of a southbound convoy off the west coast of Greece and tonight three special Wellingtons of 69 Squadron were sent to attack.

One aircraft returned unserviceable after 14 minutes but the other two pressed on towards the target area.  One of the Wellingtons located the convoy of one tanker and one merchant vessel, both about 5000 tons, 18 miles to the south west of Antipaxos.  The aircraft then lost visibility and had to abandon the attack, bringing its torpedo back to base.  But the third Wellington was able to close in on the convoy and dropped two 1000 lb bombs.  Results are not yet confirmed.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 OCTOBER TO DAWN 27 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Showery.

0629-0742 hrs  One Hurricane from Hal Far searches for a dinghy 8-10 miles north west of Gozo.  A body is seen floating in an uninflated dinghy.  The Hurricane has to return to base due to an incoming air raid.

0654-0750 hrs  Air raid alert for 35 enemy fighters including fighter bombers approaching the Island.  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept and see six ME 109s but they are too distant to engage.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled: P/O McLennan destroys one ME 109.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat: pilot unhurt.  About half the raiders are intercepted by Malta fighters north of the Island and turn back.  The remainder cross the coast and bombs are dropped on Ta Qali.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  One ME 109 is destroyed.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat: pilot unjurt.

0813-0939 hrs  The Hurricane from Hal Far returns to the area where the pilot earlier spotted the dinghy but finds nothing.  The High Speed Launch is seen in the same area.

1039-1120 hrs  Air raid alert for the approach of 35 enemy fighters and fighter bombers.  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept but do not engage.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled and engage the first wave of raiders north of the Island: F/L Rolls probably destroys one ME 109.  As incoming waves of raiders attempt to cross the coast the Spitfires force them to split up: a few get through to drop bombs near Luqa airfield.  Heavy Ack Ack fire and two ME 109 fighter bombers are engaged at 3000 feet by two guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.

1410-1535 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1515-1537 hrs  Air raid alert for the approach of 40 enemy fighters and fighter bombers, including six bomb-carrying ME 109s.  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept but sight nothing.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron are also scrambled and intercept the raiders over the Island: P/O Walton destroys one ME 109; S/L Lovell damages another.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Bombs are dropped near Birzebbuga, Hal Far and Ghar Dalam, where an Ack Ack ammunition dump is hit by a bomb.  60 boxes of ammunition are damaged and the dump is set on fire.  The blaze is quickly extinguished by Sgt Willis and other personnel of D Company, 1st Bn Devonshire Regt and of A Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Reg under Captain Lovering, as well as Royal Artillery personnel.

Night  No air raids.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

HMS Hebe

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 26 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hebe swept P 212 returning from an uneventful patrol in the Cape Dukato area.

AIR HQ  Departures  One Hudson, one Liberator to Gibraltar; one Wellington to Shallufa.

LUQA  One Spitfire 69 Squadron was sent on a shipping search of Pantelleria and Kerkenna.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  B Company took over coast patrol and Tal Virtu observation post.

27 October 1942: RAF Sink Rommel’s Hopes For El Alamein

“The desert was quivering with heat. The gun detachments and the platoons squatted in their pits and trenches, the sweat running in rivers down their dust-caked faces. There was a terrible stench. The flies swarmed in black clouds upon the dead bodies and excreta and tormented the wounded. The place was strewn with burning tanks and carriers, wrecked guns and vehicles, and over all drifted the smoke and the dust from bursting high explosives and from the blasts of guns.”  (1)

British troops on the move in North Africa

Axis hopes of gaining supremacy in the North African suffered a double blow today thanks to Allied forces. Torpedo bombers of 42 Squadron RAF sank an oil tanker at Tobruk, destroying Rommel’s last hope for much-needed fuel supplies.  The Axis sea convoy comprised three merchant ships with four escorting destroyers and escorting planes overhead.  Allied heavy and light bombers and torpedo planes attacked relentlessly in the face of terrific fire from the destroyers. Only one of the supply ships escaped. A large merchantman blew up and the tanker was set on fire and sank.  The sinking follows several successful attacks on tankers by Malta-based air forces.  The German Field Marshal, who arrived back in North Africa on Sunday to resume command of Axis forces, now has only three days’ fuel to supply his armies.

Meanwhile the Allies scored an important victory over enemy tanks at El Alamein.  Having battled throughout the day against two counter-offensives by Rommel’s forces, this afternoon they repulsed a determined attack by Axis Panzer divisions, destroying 22 German and 10 Italian tanks before the remainder gave up.

QRENDI STRIP DEVELOPS

Troops building aircraft pens

200 servicemen are now employed building new pens at Qrendi strip.  The pens will add to the facilities at the recently-opened air strip, significantly extend the capacity for aircraft based on Malta.  The construction work increases the already significant contribution made by the Army to air operations on the Island.  Following the recent increased enemy bombardment, 1000 soldiers are now assisting the RAF in the maintenance of aerodromes, servicing and refuelling aircraft. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 OCTOBER TO DAWN 28 OCTOBER 1942

Weather   Fine: excellent visibility early; electric storm early morning.

0703-0722 hrs  Air raid alert for 24 enemy fighters including six ME 109 fighter bombers approaching Malta.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and engage raiders 15 miles north of the Island: S/Ldr Woods and P/O McCoy each damage one ME 109.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled: no claims.  The remaining raiders cross the coast and approach Ta Qali from the east, dropping bombs on the airfield from a height of 10000 feet.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage: no claims.

0740-0845 hrs  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on intercept patrol: no enemy aircraft seen.

1013-1104 hrs  Air raid alert as 60 ME 109s and Macchi 202s including several ME 109 fighter bombers approach the coast in several waves.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron, four Spitfires 249 Squadron and eight 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but the enemy takes strong evasive action: no claims.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat: pilot slightly injured.  High explosives including delayed action bombs are dropped on Luqa and the Safi strip from about 14000 feet.  One aircraft is destroyed on the ground and another damaged.  One ME 109 is probably destroyed by Light Ack Ack.

1457-1518 hrs  Air raid alert as 40 ME 109s and Macchi 202s including fighter bombers approach the Island at great height.  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and successfully attack 25 fighters and fighter bombers, which they force to jettison their bombs in the sea.  F/Lt McElroy damages one Macchi 202.  The raiders turn back at speed, along with the majority of their escort.  One Spitfire is damaged: pilot slightly injured.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are also airborne but see no enemy aircraft.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.

Night  No air raids.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 27 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  The area between Grand Harbour and St Julian’s Bay was swept on 27th October by the 3rd ML Flotilla, prior to divers working on the submarine telegraph cables. Three mines were disposed of bringing the total destroyed by this flotilla to 100.

AIR HQ  Departures  One DC 3 to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire damaged in enemy action crash-landed: pilot injured.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  AM GOC watched an exercise incorporating practice landings from motorized landing craft.

28 October 1942: Operation Train Brings Reinforcements

HMS Furious

The fast minelayer HMS Welshman also sailed with the convoy carrying emergency supplies for Malta.

ATTACK ON SUBMARINE BASE KILLS THREE

A dive bombing attack on Malta’s submarine base this morning killed three civilians in Sliema.  The raid was the second attempted strike at the base today – the first was beaten off by Malta fighters before the enemy aircraft reached the Island.

The air raid alert just before 9.30 am heralded a second attack by 30 raiders which approached the Island at 27000 feet.  Among them were a dozen ME 109 fighter bombers which swooped down to 12000 feet and then into a shallow dive as they crossed the coast towards their objective in Marsamxetto harbour.  Spitfires engage the raiders as they are still in their dive, causing several to jettison their bombs.  However several bombs did fall on Tigne Barracks, Sliema and Gzira, where three civilians were killed.  Civilian property was also damaged in the raid.

HMS Welshman

The Island was spared a third air raid as the enemy aircraft turned back before coming within 10 miles of the coast.

MALTA WELLINGTONS SINK ANOTHER AXIS TANKER

“The AOC sends personal congratulations to 69 Squadron on its brilliantly executed torpedo attack on the enemy convoy on the night of 28/29th October.”

A very successful attack was carried out tonight against an enemy convoy off the Greek coast.  A reconnaissance Baltimore had earlier reported a convoy of one tanker and a merchant vessel, escorted by three destroyers, off Sapienza.  Three Wellingtons 69 Squadron, one carrying bombs and one carrying torpedoes, were sent to locate and attack the vessels.  The bomb-carrying Wellington returned early with engine trouble and crash-landed, having jettisoned its bombs in the sea.

The other two Wellingtons sighted a tanker and a merchant vessel and went in for the attack.  Pilot Officer Matthews scored a direct hit on the merchant vessel with a torpedo.  Pilot Officer Donkersley arrived on the scene at 2252 hours and found no trace of the merchant vessel.  He aimed his bombs at the tanker, setting it ablaze from stem to stern.  A reconnaissance aircraft inspecting the area later found nothing but wreckage, oil streaks and a half-submerged barrage balloon.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 OCTOBER TO DAWN 29 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Fine; cloudy late evening.

0625-0735 hrs; 0635-0820 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali then eight from Hal Far on intercept patrol: no sightings.

0716-0734 hrs  Air raid alert sounds for 40 enemy fighters approaching Malta.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa and nine of 249 Squadron are scrambled and intercept the main formation to the north of the Island.  The Spitfires attempt an engagement from above but the enemy fighters disperse into the clouds and out of sight before heading back to Sicily: no claims.

0924-1001 hrs  Air raid alert as 30 enemy fighters and fighter bombers approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept and fire short bursts at raiders as they head towards Grand Harbour, causing several to drop their bombs.  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron and eight 249 Squadron Ta Qali are also scrambled but do not engage.  P/O Giddings 249 Squadron crashes on take-off and is admitted to hospital with a fractured arm.  The remaining raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on Sliema, Gzira and Tigne Barracks area causing damage to property and civilian casualties.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1045-1140 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1233-1247 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy fighters approaching the Island.  Four Spitfires from Hal Far are conducting a practice flight when they see two ME 109s: they turn to engage but the enemy aircraft evade action.  All the fighters recede before coming within 10 miles of the Island but then recede.

1335-1500 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are on intercept patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties  Chargeman E Wright, HM Dockyard.

Civilian casualties  Gzira  Ritz Falzon, age 19; Carmela Micallef, age 42; Vincenza Rice, age 40.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 28 OCTOBER 1942

LUQA  Spitfires 69 Squadron were despatched on photo-reconnaissance of Navarino, eastern Sicily, Messina, Palermo, Gabini and Pachino.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  1600 hrs  Regiment band playing at Birkirkara.

29 October 1942: German Pilots Sick of Fight For Malta

German aircraft losses dent morale (c) IWM CM 745

The strain of fighting for air supremacy over Malta is clearly beginning to tell on the enemy air forces. “Experienced German pilots who became prisoners of war during this month have admitted to a general distaste among the German air force for fights over Malta.  This reluctance is not surprising when it is seen that, in the course of their unsuccessful October offensive, the Axis powers lost 15 air crew for every British pilot lost.”  War Diary, Air HQ, Malta October 1942

SPITFIRES AND SUPPLIES

Twenty nine Spitfires were flown off from HMS Furious today and all landed safely at Malta.  Two others remained on board the aircraft carrier due to defects.  Enemy aircraft made some attempts to intercept the incoming aircraft but continuous cover by Spitfires deterred any serious threat.

At the same time, HMS Welshman detached from the convoy ships to make independent passage to Malta.  The fast minelayer carries some 350 tons of much-needed cargo in her holds.  Welshman’s exceptionally fast speed has brought her through several supply missions to the Island and the Dockyard is preparing for a fast unload on her arrival.  After their successful delivery, Furious and her escort ships turned and set course immediately for Gibraltar.

MALTA FLOTILLA GRABS 100TH MINE

The Vice Admiral Malta reported that the Third Motor Launch Flotilla in addition to their many other valuable services had swept up their hundredth mine in the approaches to Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 OCTOBER TO DAWN 30 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Fine; almost cloudless.

0750-0855 hrs  Eight Spitfires Hal Far patrol over the Island: no enemy aircraft sighted.

0910-1010 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are on intercept patrol:  no sightings.

0956-1120 hrs  Air raid alert.  42 enemy fighters approach the Island from the north in five formations of six and three formations of eight aircraft each.  They attempt to intercept delivery Spitfires as they come in to land.  Malta fighters are airborne but the enemy recede before engaging.  The delivery Spitfires land safely.

1020-1125 hrs  Seven Spitfires Hal Far patrol over Grand Harbour area: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1100-1230 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1232-1310 hrs  Air raid alert for a small number of enemy fighters on a high fighter sweep.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagements.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1339-1345 hrs  Eight delivery Spitfires land at Hal Far.

1849-1910 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which approach the Island at 22-25000 feet and drop bombs in the sea three miles north of the Island.  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa patrols to the north of Malta but sees nothing.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Walter Parks, Royal Australian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Naxxar  Emanuel Grech, age 52.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 29 OCTOBER 1942

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties  Two Spitfires crashed into construction on taking off: one pilot injured, one killed.

LUQA  One Spitfire 69 Squadron was sent on photo-reconnaissance over western Sicily and Pantelleria.  One Spitfire 69 Squadron was sent on photo-reconnaissance of enemy shipping in the area Cape Ducato, Cape St Maria di Leuca and Taranto.  Two special Wellingtons 69 Squadron were sent to attack an enemy convoy sighted by a photo-reconnaissance Spitfire but did not find it.

30 October 1942: RAF Win Latest Battle For Skies Over Malta

B flight RAF 249 Squadron Malta July 42

The skies fell silent over Malta today.  The absence of air raids is an indication that the RAF has finally secured air supremacy over the Island after the failure of the latest enemy bombing campaign.  With strong fighter escort and a small number of bombers, the enemy has tried to neutralise the aerodromes in order to protect the passage of important convoys to Tripolitania and Libya.

During daylight in October the enemy flew a total of about 250 bomber and 3500 fighter and fighter-bomber sorties against Malta.  Spitfires definitely destroyed a total of 49 bombers and 78 fighters.  By night during the month Beaufighters of 89 Squadron made a total of 61 sorties including 15 intruder patrols over enemy aerodromes and harbours.  Five enemy night bombers were destroyed.  Malta’s losses were 38 aircraft destroyed, mainly Spitfires.

The policy adopted by the RAF of intercepting the enemy north of the island has proved eminently successful.  The enemy reverted to high flying tactics using cloud cover; some damage was done to the aerodromes but without any serious impact.  Finding these tactics too costly, the enemy has now left Malta well alone.

AMMUNITION USE AND FUEL RATIONING TIGHTENED

Heavy Ack Ack Brigades have issued orders restricting the firing pattern of anti-aircraft positions.   From today, only guns in certain strategic positions may engage enemy fighter aircraft, and then only by pointers.  However, all gun positions will continue to engage any enemy aircraft clearly identified as bomb-carrying.

Petrol economies are also now being strictly enforced across all Services in Malta as fuel shortages continue to concern the Island’s commanders.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 OCTOBER TO DAWN 31 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Variable becoming fine: cloudless evening.

0740-0830 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1350-1450 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no sightings.

Night  No air raids.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

HMS Rorqual

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 30 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  HMS Rorqual arrived with stores from Beirut, swept in by Rye.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Liberators from Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  1640-1735 hrs  Four Spitfires carried out a reconnaissance patrol over south east Sicily while four others provided cover for their return.

LUQA  One Spitfire 69 Squadron was despatched on photo-reconnaissance of Tripoli.

31 October 1942: 14 Attacks On Axis Convoys

AIR RAID STATISTICS OCTOBER 1942  

  • Total number of alerts to date 3135
  • Total number of alerts this month 152
  • Number of blank days 2
  • Number of night raids 41
  • Raid free nights 19
  • Alerts for own planes 7
  • Total time from air raid alert to raiders passed 4 days, 2 hrs, 11 mins
  • Average length of alert 38.2 mins

    P 246 HMS Statesman

ROYAL NAVY SUMMARY FOR OCTOBER

Twenty seven attacks were carried out from Malta during the month, fourteen of which were successful. Three were against merchant ships already beached after air attacks. Ten merchant vessels, aggregating 23900 tons were sunk as well as one fleet destroyer, a tug, and two schooners.  The strength of the Flotilla was brought up to eleven operational submarines by the arrival of P 212 on 9th October and of P 246 on the 19th.

Four submarines continued store-carrying trips to Malta with petrol and vital supplies from Gibraltar and Beirut.  The First and Tenth Submarine Flotillas carried out many brilliant attacks on Axis convoys and shipping running to Libya. An attack on a heavily escorted southbound convoy of one tanker and three merchant ships bound for Tripoli by five submarines off Pantellaria was particularly noteworthy. Albacore and Swordfish aircraft made many attacks before the convoy ran into the submarine concentration. P 211 sank one merchant vessel, stopped after air attack, P 37 sank a destroyer and one merchant vessel in the convoy, and it possible that P 42 also damaged a merchant vessel. The latter was very accurately counterattacked and damaged, and force to return to Malta.

SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING OCTOBER 31

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

1.  Enemy air activity on a much reduced scale.  16 alerts.  Total 290 Spitfire sorties against 650 enemy sorties.  No alerts after 1300 hrs 29 October.  Raids consisted of fighter bombers heavily escorted.  Many jettisoned their bombs in the sea.  A few bombs on the aerodromes.  Ack Ack dump was set on fire and extinguished by soldiers.  Spitfires destroyed three ME 109s, one Macchi 202; probably destroyed two ME 109s; damaged three ME 109s and one Macchi 202.  Ack Ack destroyed two ME 109s; probably destroyed one ME 109.  Photo reconnaissance shows a general decrease 100 enemy aircraft in Sicily but an increase on western aerodromes, particularly JU 84 (or 87)s.

2.  Eight Wellington sorties against enemy convoys.  One tanker and one merchant vessel sunk.  Two 1000 lb bombs aimed at a vessel, believed a tanker: results unobserved.

3.  Army working parties total about 600 on aerodromes and 200 men building the new Qrendi landing strip.  Minor combined operations training being carried out with MLCS.

4.  Military damage negligible.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 OCTOBER TO DAWN 1 NOVEMBER 1942

0755-0830 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no raid materialised; no sightings.

1100-1135 hrs  Four Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept a possible approaching air raid which does not materialise.

1630 hrs  The regimental band and drums of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment Beat the Retreat at Sliema.  His Excellency the Governor and GOC Troops is in attendance.

Military casualties  Private Raymond Hurley, 2nd Battalion, Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment; Lance Corporal Gerald Tarr, 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 31 OCTOBER 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One DC 3 from Middle East.  Departures  One Liberator to Gibraltar; one Liberator to LG 224.

HAL FAR  0630-0735 hrs  Four Spitfires patrolled over south east Sicily: nothing sighted.  2135-0235 hrs  One special Swordfish and two strike Albacores searched for shipping between Tripoli and Homs: no sightings.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Lance Corporal G A Tarr fell down a 30 foot well in Valletta and was killed.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  During the period 22-31 October the Battalion has found two impressed lorries, one motor-cycle and five Other Ranks for work in Hal Far aerodrome.  During daylight two twin Lewis guns have been manned in anti-aircraft defence of the Safi strip.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Private Hurley, A Company, died from multiple injuries caused by falling masonry.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 11.  Dealt with: 9 High Explosives  (3 x 250kg; 7 x 50kg); 173 anti-personnel bombs; 1 oil incendiary.

(1) Alamein, Cecil Ernest Lucas-Phillips, Little Brown & Co, Boston, 1962

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Posted by on October 31, 2012 in 1942, October 1942

 

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