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11-17 October 1942: The Blitz is Back

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11 October 1942:  31 Civilians Killed – 17 in Tarxien

Malta was rocked today by heavy bombing raids for the first time three months, as the enemy sent 58 bombers with massed fighter escorts over the Island.  The attacks mark a return to blitz conditions not seen since the end of April 1942.  This time Malta’s Spitfires were airborne in force to counter-attack, destroying eight of the enemy bombers and seven of their fighters.

Heavy Ack Ack also engaged the raiders but with ammunition restrictions at 15 rounds per gun per day due to lack of stocks the Gunners were unable to provide a deterrent to raiders equal to previous months.  The Army has increased the number of men assisting on the aerodromes to 350 daily, to service aircraft and clear damaged runways to keep Malta’s defenders in the air.

The communique from Allied HQ Cairo states: “There was an increase in air activity over Malta yesterday heavily-escorted bombers carried out five attacks during the day. Our fighters engaged them on every occasion. They destroyed at least 15 enemy aircraft, and a great many more were damaged. We lost one fighter. The Malta air craft is the only Allied plane missing from all these operations.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 OCTOBER TO DAWN 12 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Fine to fair; cloudy about mid-day.

0715 hrs  Air raid alert.  Spitfires of 1435 and 126 Squadrons Luqa are scrambled and intercept nine JU 88s with a large fighter escort approaching Malta from the north. As enemy fighters try to fend them off 126 Squadron attacks and P/O Stevenson destroys one Macchi 202 and F/O Smith destroys one JU 88.  F/S Varey probably destroys one ME 109 and damages one; Sgt Yeatman damages one ME 109, Sgt Marshall one JU 88 and Sgt Tiddy one Macchi 202.  1435 Squadron P/O Walton damages one JU 88 and Sgt Hamilton one ME 109. One Spitfire 1435 Squadron is damaged: pilot unhurt.

Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are also scrambled to intercept.  As they go in to attack enemy bombers they are jumped by escorting fighters: no results.

0719 hrs   Six JU 88s escorted by 30 fighters approached from the south east of Malta to attack Hal Far by shallow dive.  They drop bombs on Benghaisa PT and Hal Far, damaging GHQ, a coal dump and motor transport.

0725 hrs  C Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a bomber crashed in the sea near to defence post RA 3.

0755 hrs  All clear.

0800-0955  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are dispatched to act as escort for the High Speed Launch: no enemy aircraft approach.

0945 hrs  Six JU 88 bombers escorted by 65 fighters are reported approaching the Island.  Six Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  They locate six bombers with twenty fighters and are instructed to attack top cover from up sun.  F/Lt Roscoe destroys one ME 109; Sgt Miller damages one.

0950 hrs  Spitfires are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept and engage enemy aircraft: no claims.

1009 hrs  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron and two 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  1435 Squadron S/L Lovell and P/O Walton each damage one ME 109.

1009-1105 hrs  Air raid alert.  The six JU 88 bombers with their remaining fighter escort cross the coast between 18000 and 3000 feet and drop bombs on Lija, Balzan and Birkirkara on the way to Ta Qali.  The JU 88s attempt to drop 20-30 high explosive bombs on the airfield’s runway but overshoot the target, then split up as they recede.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1230 hrs  Eight JU 88s escorted by 50 fighters approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept the raiders and launch a head-on attack on the eight JU 88s escorted by 25 fighters.  W/Cdr Donaldson destroys one JU 88 and damages one ME 109; F/Sgt Ballantyne destroys one ME 109; P/O Nash damages one Macchi 202.

Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far.  They locate one JU 88 with fighter escort and engage: P/O Park damages one RE 2001.

1325 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron and four 126 Squadron are scrambled: one Spitfire 126 Squadron is damaged and crash-lands: the pilot is unhurt.  1435 Squadron F/Lt McLeod and F/Sgt MacLennan each damage two ME 109s; Sgt Williams and Sgt Jarrett each damage one; P/O Park damages one Re 2001.  Two Spitfires 1435 Squadron are damaged in combat: Sgt Jarrett is slightly hurt.

1400 hrs  The eight JU 88s with fighter escort drop bombs on Ta Qali aerodrome and dispersal areas, and on Rabat, causing damage to property and civilian casualties.  Three Spitfires are slightly damaged and one written off.

1420 hrs  Raiders passed.

A formation of 16 enemy raiders is seen to the north of the Islands but are too far away for identification.  As they approach, they are discovered to be single-engined aircraft with retractable undercarriage and are at first thought to be a new type of JU 87.

1625 hrs  40 German and Italian fighters approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and attack enemy fighters north of St Paul’s Bay.  F/Lt Glazebrook and F/Sgt Ballantyne each destroy one Macchi 202.  Spitfires are scrambled from Hal Far: W/Cdr Thompson, Sgt Gore and P/O Reid each destroy one ME 109.   Spitfires of 126 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled: W/Cdr Hanks damages one ME 109 and S/Ldr Wicks one Macchi 202; F/Lt Reels probably destroys one Re 2001 and damages one; F/O Wallace damages one Macchi 202.  One Spitfire is damaged; the pilot is unhurt.  One Spitfire and pilot Sgt MacLean are reported missing.

1630 hrs  Air raid alert.  Bombs are dropped on Mellieha Ridge.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.

1700 hrs  4th Bn The Buffs Beat the Retreat in Rabat Square in the presence of His Excellency the Governor.

1720 hrs  Raiders passed.

1735 hrs  Thirty unescorted JU 88s approach the Island.  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and engage 15 JU 88s.  P/O Nash and F/Sgt Ballantyne each destroy one JU 88; W/Cdr Donaldson and F/Lt Parkinson each probably destroy one.

1745 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: F/Lt McLeod and Sgt MacLennan each destroy two JU 88s and Sgt Kebble one; Sgt Ree damages two JU 88s.  Two Spitfires 1435 Squadron are damaged: the pilots are unhurt.

1800 hrs  The remaining JU 88s drop bombs on Hal Far, Luqa, Tarxien and Qormi, destroying houses and causing civilian casualties. One Beaufighter is burned out the ground on Luqa aerodrome.  C Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report two planes down in the sea north of defence post RA 3.

In Tarxien, personnel of HQ Company, 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt help to put out fires.  Bombs are dropped in Mqabba and Gudja camp areas.  One Other Rank of 1st Bn Hampshire Regt is injured by an incendiary bomb.  Searchlights effect ten illuminations, in one case illuminating three planes simultaneously.  225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage one JU 88 at 4000 feet.

1810-1820 hrs  1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report anti-personnel bombs between D Company HQ and Ta Ingrau, near Della Grazia and 150 yards south of Fort Ta Silch.  A Company send 40 men to extinguish a fire at Ta Belebel area.  CQMS Rampling, A Company, is injured in the left thigh by a bomb in Tarxien.

1850 hrs  Raiders passed.  The Spitfires landing at Ta Qali have great difficulty due to a cratered runway.

2100-2130 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy bombers approach but only one crosses the coast.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Bombs are dropped in Birkirkara.  Beaufighters 89 Squadron Luqa are airborne: no engagements.  C Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a delayed action bomb exploding near Ta Ingrau.

0039-0100 hrs  One HE 111 flies over Malta and drops flares and delayed action bombs on Luqa runway.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  As the enemy raider heads turns to head for Sicily, a Beaufighter of 89 Squadron intercepts.  F/O Shipard and F/Sgt Oxley attack with bursts of cannon and machine gun fire and destroy the HE 111.

0245-0330 hrs  Six enemy bombers approach the Island.  One crosses the coast and drops anti-personnel bombs on the Luqa, Safi and Ghaxaq areas.  Two Beaufighters 89 Squadron are airborne to intercept but do not locate the raiders.

0400 hrs  Two delayed action bombs are discovered by 1st Bn Hampshire Regt west of Kirkop.

Porte des Bombes

0438-0621 hrs  Nine enemy bombers approach the Island, several crossing the coast.  Bombs are dropped in the sea north of Spinola, on Porte des Bombes, St Patrick’s and St Andrew’s, and north of St Paul’s Bay.  The Beaufighter 89 Squadron of F/O Shipard and F/Sgt Oxley shoots down one HE 111 in flames.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant David MacLean, Royal New Zealand Air Force, 126 Squadron; Gunner Lawrence Borg, 11th HAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery, killed by enemy aircraft at Rabat.

Civilian casualties  Mtarfa  Paul Azzopardi, age 17.  Paola  Joseph Hockey, age 30; Rose Hockey, age 25; Doris Hockey, age 4.  Qormi  Joseph Cardona, age 76.  Rabat  Anthony Caruana, age 10; Angiolina Falzon, age 14; Joseph Fsadni, age 28; Maddalena Galea, age 28; Antonia Grixti, age 46; Peter Vella, age 64; Mary Zahra, age 44.  Tarxien  Concetta Attard, age 47; Joseph Baldacchino, age 36; Anthony Barbara, age 55; Antonia Camilleri, age 76; Maggie Cook, age 56; Joseph Debono, age 25; Lonza Debono, age 25; Joseph Degabriele, age 9; Calcedonio Farrugia, age 15; Emily Gleaves, age 28; Joseph Manicolo, age 44; Laurence Piscopo, age 24; Charles Porter, age 71; Edward Redman, age 64; Charles Salsero, age 3; Vincent Scerri, age 60; Mary Tabone, age 12.  Zebbug  Spiro Borg, age 25.  Zejtun  Carmel Grech, age 30.

Enemy casualties (known)  Unteroffizier Gunther Grams, Wireless Operator of a JU 88 bomber shot down into the sea.  He was rescued ten miles north of Grand Harbour and taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 11 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy escorted P 42 to sea for patrol.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Beaufighters from Edcu; three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Liberator to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  Three Spitfires damaged in combat crashed on aerodrome: pilots uninjured.  One Spitfire damaged in combat suffered engine failure on landing: pilot uninjured.  Two Spitfires shot down into the sea by enemy fighters: one pilot missing.

TA QALI  249 Squadron are stood down.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Bugles played at Zebbug where the George Cross was on show.

12 October 1942: 700 Raiders Over Malta in 60 Hours

In the 60 hours to 6 o’clock this evening Axis air forces have made 700 sorties against Malta.   However, the enemy onslaught has been at a heavy cost.  In the same period the Island’s Spitfires have destroyed 20 bombers and 22 fighters, probably destroyed 21 enemy aircraft and damaged another 59.  Wing Commander Donaldson is encouraged by the new RAF tactic of ‘forward interception’ – attacking raiders well before they reach Malta:

W/Cdr A H Donaldson

“It was the most spectacular sight I have ever seen.  The whole sky was filled with enemy aircraft in severe trouble!  I saw three flaming Junkers 88s and another three flaming ME 109s, and counted no less than ten parachutes descending slowly, three of them from a Junkers 88 I had shot down.  Two of my victims, a Junkers 88 and a ME 109 both burst into flames.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 OCTOBER TO DAWN 13 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Mostly fair to cloudy.  Slight shower with lightning in the evening.

0540 hrs  Fifteen enemy bombers are reported approaching the Island in two waves, with an escort of 25 fighters each.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept, followed by eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far at 0550 hrs and three of 229 Squadron Ta Qali at 0555 hrs.

The Spitfires of 229 Squadron attack the first wave of seven JU 88s, forcing one to jettison its bombs in the sea.  F/Lt Glazebrook probably destroys one JU 88 and F/Sgt Ballantyne damages another.  The eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled and intercept five JU 88s and fighter escort.  Capt Kuhlmann probably destroys one ME 109; Sgt Vinall damages one JU 88.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0620 hrs  Air raid alert.  The first wave of raiders drops bombs on Ta Qali and Luqa, where aircraft are damaged on the ground.  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron and six 126 Squadron Luqa are then scrambled to join the attack.  126 Squadron F/Lt Rolls and F/Sgt Lang each destroy one JU 88; Sgt Park destroys two.  One Spitfire 126 Squadron and pilot S/Ldr Wicks are reported missing.  1435 Squadron Sgt Williams, P/O Stewart and P/O Latimer each damage one JU 88; P/O Owen damages one ME 109.  Two Spitfires 1435 Squadron are damaged: the pilots are unhurt.

0630 hrs  The second wave of bombers targets Hal Far, where one Spitfire is burned out and one Spitfire and two Hurricanes slightly damaged.  The eight Spitfires 249 Squadron engage seven JU 88s and their fighter escort, chasing them home.  Sgt/ Stead and S/Ldr Stephens destroy two ME 109s; S/Ldr Woods destroys one and probably destroys a JU 88 over the south Sicilian coast.  One Spitfire crashes into the sea: pilot escapes unhurt and awaits rescue.

0705-0850 hrs  Four Spitfires from Hal Far carry out a search but find nothing.  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron patrol locate the pilot in the sea and patrol above until he is picked up.

0738 hrs  All clear.

0814-0900 hrs  Three Hurricanes RNAS carry out a search for missing pilots.

0840 hrs  18 bombers approach the Island in two waves, accompanied by 25 fighters.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled and intercept, causing five bombers to jettison their bombs in the sea and turn back.  W/Cdr Donaldson and P/O Reynolds destroys one JU 88; P/O Nash damages two and F/Lt Glazebrook damages one.  P/O Parkinson damages one BR 20 and F/Sgt Ballantyne probably destroys one Macchi 202.

0845 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled and engage twelve enemy bombers with fighter escort.  F/O McElroy destroys one ME 109; F/Sgt Hiskens and F/Sgt De Lara probably destroy one JU 88.  Other Spitfires close in on six enemy fighters: F/L McEiroy turns towards the ME 109s and destroys one F/Sgt Hiskens probably destroys; F/O McElroy, P/O Sanderson and Sgt Stead damage one each before the Messerschmitts break off the fight.

0907 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six Spitfires 126 Squadron and eight 1435 Squadron are scrambled and engage.  Sgt Park and F/O Wallace 126 Squadron each destroy one JU 88; F/Lt Rolls destroys one Macchi 202 and probably destroys another; F/Sgt Bush and P/O Bazalgette each damage one JU 88.  1435 Squadron Sgt Mclennan destroys one ME 109.  One Spitfire crashes but the pilot is unhurt.  Heavy Ack Ack also engage.

0910 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Luqa, damaging aircraft on the ground, and at Ta Qali.  Bombs and incendiaries also fall at Bir-id-Dehen, Zeitun and Safi.  Anti-personnel bombs are dropped in the Latnia-Ta Ingrau area.  Four JU 88s drop high explosive bombs near Bir Miftuh Church.

Bir Miftuh Chapel

0950 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled and intercept five JU 88s with fighter escort as they turn away from bombing Ta Qali.  W/Cdr Thompson and P/O Reid each damage one ME 109.  Sgt Vinall fails to return.

1021 hrs  Raiders passed.

1105-1155 hrs  Three Hurricanes RNAS search for missing pilots.

1110-1225 hrs  One Spitfire from Hal Far searches for Sgt Vinall without success.  Sgt Vinall’s body is later discovered at the shoreline, on the west coast of the Island.

1130-1230 hrs  Eight JU 88s with an escort of 30 fighters are reported heading southwards from Sicily.  Malta’s Spitfires are scrambled early, intercepting the raiders a few miles south of the Sicilian coast and 35 miles from Malta.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron attack the JU 88s and fighters head-on.  W/Cdr Donaldson, F/O McElroy and F/Sgt Heskens each destroy one JU 88; W/Cdr Donaldson and S/Ldr Woods each destroy one ME 109.  One JU 88 is probably destroyed and four damaged; two ME 109s are damaged.  Three Spitfires are damaged in combat; pilots are unhurt.  229 Squadron F/Lt Roscoe probably destroys one Macchi 202 and another is damaged; S/Ldr H C Baker damages one ME 109.

1205 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six Spitfires 1435 Squadron are scrambled to follow up with an on the remaining JU 88s and fighters.  F/Lt Mcleod destroys one ME 109; Sgt McLennan and Sgt Rae each damage one.  In all, three Spitfires are damaged in combat and another is reported missing.

1315-1445 hrs  Three Hurricanes RNAS carry out a search for the missing pilot.  His dinghy is located and the High Speed Launch picks him up.

1430 hrs  45 enemy fighters are reported flying southwards from Sicily at a great height.  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are airborne but see nothing.

1446-1510 hrs  Air raid alert.  Nine Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  W/Cdr Hanks destroys two ME 109s.

1535-1630 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

1640 hrs  57 enemy aircraft including at least six JU 88s are reported heading southwards from Sicily.   Eight Spitfires 1535 Squadron and three 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and engage the raiders 30-40 miles north of Malta.  1435 Squadron S/Ldr Lovell destroys one JU 88; F/Sgt Scott destroys one Re 2001.  P/O Walten, F/Sgt Scott and Sgt Hawkins probably destroy one JU 88 each.  F/Sgt Scott also damages one Re 2001.  One Spitfire is shot down: pilot F/Sgt Stevenson is missing.

1652 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are airborne: no interceptions.

1715 hrs  Only a few enemy aircraft reach the Island at failing light.  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron chase three unidentified enemy aircraft but are unable to engage.  The bombers appear to approach singly, dropping bombs on Sliema, Ghaxaq, Safi, Nigret, Latnia and Marsamxetto. Bombs are also scattered near Luqa and Kalafrana.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.

1820 hrs  Anti-personnel, incendiary and high explosive bombs are dropped near the Safi strip (between Tal Liebru and St Nicola Church), Ta Karach and Misrah Blandun.

1847 hrs  All clear.

1945-2011 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five enemy bombers approach Malta at 17-20000 feet; two cross the coast and drop bombs in the sea north of Grand Harbour and St Paul’s Bay.  Malta Beaufighter is airborne: no engagement.

2100 hrs  Observers of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a white flashing light out to sea 6-8 miles bearing 65 degrees Fort Ta Silch.  The vessel is later confirmed as the RAF Rescue Launch.

2120-2205 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four enemy bombers approach at 27000 feet.  Three cross the coast and drop bombs at Benghaisa PT and in the sea north east of the Island.  Malta fighters are airborne: one attacks and destroys a HE 111 which jettisons its bombs during the engagement.

2120-2205 hrs  Four enemy bombers approach Malta.  Two Beaufighters 89 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept; F/O Shipard destroys one enemy bomber.

2220-2320 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron on patrol over Sicily attacks and shoots down an enemy bomber as it is about to land.

0245-0315 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four enemy aircraft approach the Island at heights of up to 15000 feet but none cross the coast.  Flares are dropped off Madliena.  Malta fighters are airborne but do not engage.

0430-0500 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five enemy aircraft approach the Island: one crosses the coast.  Bombs are dropped in the Kalafrana area and in the sea east of Leonardo PT.  Malta fighters are airborne but do not engage.

Military casualties  Sergeant John Vinall, Pilot, Royal Air Force, 185 Squadron; Squadron Leader Bryan Wicks, Royal Air Force, 126 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties (known)  Unteroffizier Otto Kobszinowski, Wireless Operator of a JU 88 bomber, picked up from the sea and taken prisoner; Unteroffizier Max Zettelmaier, Crewman of a JU 88 bomber picked up from the sea and taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 12 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy escorted Una to sea for patrol.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufort from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Hudsons to Gibraltar; one Beaufighter to Edcu.  Aircraft casualties  Two Spitfire shot down into the sea: both pilots bailed out and rescued uninjured.  One Spitfire shot down by enemy fighters: pilot baled out and landed uninjured.  One Spitfire damaged by enemy action: pilot uninjured.  Two Spitfires failed to return to base after enemy action: pilots missing.  One Beaufighter taxied into a bomb crater: crew uninjured.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  A detailed bomb search was carried out and discovered 23 unexploded anti-personnel bombs and two unexploded HE bombs.

13 October 1942: 1000 Axis Aircraft Destroyed Over Malta

Wreckage of JU 88

Today Malta claimed the 1000th enemy aircraft destroyed since Italy entered the war in June 1940.  The milestone was reached during the heaviest air raid on the Island since 10 May.  “We wonder can the Axis keep it up.”  (CO, 7th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment).

Air raids are becoming more ‘systematic’ – with one before breakfast, one during the morning, then at lunchtime, mid-afternoon, just after tea and sometimes at dusk.  Attacking forces generally comprise six or seven JU 88 bombers with large fighter escorts raid the aerodromes in turn.  JU 88 bombers now appear to be adopting shallow dive tactics in an attempt to launch bombs on target.

MALTA WELLINGTONS ON THE ATTACK

A Baltimore on an afternoon shipping reconnaissance in the South Ionian Sea sighted two 6-7000 ton merchant vessels and six destroyers, proceeding south at 12 knots.  Three Wellingtons were despatched to attack but only one found the convoy, about half way between southern Greece and Benghazi.  Two 1000 lb bombs were dropped but fell wide of the target.

Two Beaufighters also carried out intruder sorties over Sicily today as Malta continues its role as a fortress against Axis operations in the Mediterranean.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 OCTOBER TO DAWN 14 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Fine to fair; slight shower with lightning early morning.

0610 hrs  As seven JU 88s escorted by 30 ME 109s approach the Island eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept.  They engage three JU 88s with a large fighter escort.  F/Lt Charney probably destroys one ME 109; Major Swales and P/O Maynard each damage a ME 109; P/O Maynard and F/Sgt Maher each damage a JU 88.

0620 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and dive to attack five remaining JU 88s and fighter escort.  P/O Beurling destroys one JU 88 and one ME 109; P/O Seed probably destroys one JU 88.  P/O Seed, P/O Giddings, F/Lt Hetherington and Sgt Shenell each damage one ME 109.

0705-0729 hrs  Air raid alert.  The remaining raiders cross the coast: bombs are dropped in the Luqa area, killing two civilians.  Two JU 88s drop bombs in the area of Bir Miftuh Church.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept.  P/O Walten destroys one JU 88; P/O Pinney probably destroys one ME 109 and damages one JU 88.

0935-1035 hrs  Six JU 88s and 42 fighter approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled and intercept the raiders about 10 miles north of Zonqor.  They launch a diving attack on one JU 88: no claims.

1007 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron and eight of 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept. 1435 Squadron Sgt Hawkins destroys one JU 88; F/Sgt Scott destroys one ME 109 and damages one JU 88.  Sgt Sharp damages another JU 88 and Sgt Eva damages a ME 109.  126 Squadron WO Farquharson probably destroys one ME 109; W/Cdr Hanks damages one JU 88 and P/O Thompson damages a JU 88.  One Spitfire is damaged: the pilot is unhurt.

1030 hrs  JU 88s drop bombs on Safi and Hal Far, Kirkop and Ta Klantun, Ta Liebru and near Zurrieq.

1037 hrs  Raiders passed.

1123-1140 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled on to intercept but see nothing.  The raiders do not approach Malta.

1235-1334 hrs  Six JU 88s with a heavy escort of 44 fighters are reported heading for Malta.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled and intercept the raiders 25 miles north of Zonqor: Major Swales probably destroys a JU 88; Sgt McLeod is reported missing.

1245 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled and engage the remaining JU 88s with escorting fighters over Kalafrana Bay.  S/Ldr Baker and F/Sgt Bye each damage one ME 109; Sgt Miller damages one JU 88.

1310 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled and engage raiders.  F/Lt Jones destroys one ME 109; F/O smith destroys one Macchi 202.  F/Sgt Carey probably destroys one JU 88 and W/O Farquharson one ME 109.  Two Spitfires are damaged in combat; pilots are unhurt.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.

1315 hrs  Two JU 88s drop bombs on Zurrieq village.

1330 hrs  High explosive and incendiary bombs are dropped near Luqa, on Wied Babu and Nigret.  Private Fenech of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment is affected by blast; Private Teuma is injured by a bomb splinter in the elbow.

1335 hrs  Observers of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report one ME 109 shot down into the sea one mile off Grand Harbour.

1344 hrs  Raiders passed.

1550 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron and eight of 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept 30 enemy fighters and bombers approaching Malta.

1611 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.   Sgt [White]destroys one JU 88 and F/Lt McLeod destroys one Macchi 202.

1630 hrs  Seven JU 88s cross the coast at Kalafrana heading for Qrendi where they drop into a steep dive to bomb Qrendi air strip.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Bombs land on Qrendi village, near Tal Providenza and on Qrendi strip.  One just misses a defence post, wounding one member of 4th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment.  One high explosive bomb lands near Hagiar Qim battery of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.

The Spitfires of 229 and 249 Squadrons then launch an attack on the fighters and bombers and a general dogfight ensues.  229 Squadron P/O Nash destroys one JU 88; W/Cdr Donaldson damages another.  His and one other Spitfire are damaged in combat and crash land at Ta Qali: neither pilot is hurt.  Total enemy casualties are two JU 88s, two ME 109s, three Macchi 202s and one Re 2001 destroyed; three JU 88s damaged.

1652 hrs  Raiders passed.

1810-1905 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to locate and intercept enemy raiders but are unable to get within range: visibility is poor due to failing light.  The raid does not materialize.

2212-0013 hrs  Air raid alert.  Ten enemy aircraft approach the Island but only four cross the coast.  Bombs are dropped on the edge of Hal Far runway; the aerodrome remains serviceable.  Incendiaries are dropped on Zebbug and Mellieha, and on Wardia Ridge.  Observers identify one enemy aircraft in the searchlights as a Focke-Wolfe Zenstorer.  Beaufighters of 89 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept: no engagement.

0218-0258 hrs  Beaufighters of 89 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept enemy raiders: no engagement.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Alexander MacLeod, Royal Canadian Air Force, 185 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Emanual Mifsud, age 20.  Sliema  John Block, age 20.

Enemy casualties (known)  Sottotenente Maurizio Iannucci, 352a Squadriglia, 20o Gruppo, 51o Stormo, pilot of a Macchi 202 fighter, shot down and killed; Captain Enzo Radini, pilot of Macchi 202 fighter aircraft, picked up from the sea by RAF Launch.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 13 OCTOBER 1942

P34 HMS Ultimatum

ROYAL NAVY  P 34 was swept in by Speedy.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed into the sea during combat with enemy fighters: pilot missing.  One Spitfire force-landed: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire damaged by enemy action: pilot uninjured.  One Beaufighter’s hydraulic system failed on landing: crew uninjured.

ROYAL ARTILLERY  Gunner Davies 6/4 Regt was wounded in action at XHB 10 Heavy Ack Ack position.

 14 October 1942: Screwball Beurling’s Last Mission

82 enemy aircraft have been destroyed over Malta between 10 and 14 October 1942.  “Still they come asking for more, and they get it.”  CO, 7th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment

MALTA SPITFIRE ACES SHOT DOWN

George Beurling

Record-breaking fighter pilot George Beurling was lucky to escape alive today when his Spitfire was strafed by enemy cannon shells, causing him serious injuries.  Pilot Officer Beurling, also known as ‘Screwball’ was flying one of seven Spitfires of 249 Squadron scrambled at 1300 hours today to attack nine JU 88 bombers with and a large close escort of German and Italian fighters just south of Zonqor Point.

Having downed one JU 88, Beurling spotted a fellow Spitfire under fire from a band of Messerschmitts and attacked, downing the leading fighter.  Another JU 88 bomber returned fire, wounding Beurling in the arm and hand.  He broke off and climbed, before turning to pursue another ME 109 on the tail of a Spitfire.  Beurling’s fire shot off the wing of the Messerschmitt and it spiralled downwards as he watched.  The moment’s distraction was nearly fatal: cannon shells from another ME 109 ripped into his Spitfire from below, badly injuring his heel, elbow and ribs and setting the aircraft on fire.

Beurling managed to bail out and parachuted down towards the sea.  The ME 109 fired again at the pilot and his ‘chute but was chased away by another Spitfire.  Beurling was rescued later from the sea by the High Speed Launch and taken to hospital.  His injuries bring to an end his run of 29 enemy aircraft destroyed over Malta between July and October 1942.

Wing Commander Arthur Donaldson DSO was also injured earlier today in combat with enemy raiders.  W/Cdr Donaldson was piloting one of four Spitfires in an air battle with eight JU 88s and their fighter escort.  He flew straight through the fighter cordon to launch a head-on attack on the enemy bombers.  The raiders returned fire, injuring Donaldson in the head and foot.   Two of his fingers were shot away and he had to withdraw.  For the second time in two days, and despite serious injuries, he managed to land his damaged Spitfire safely at Ta Qali before being taken to hospital.

Adrian Warburton

AIRCRAFT LOST IN CONVOY RAID – RECONNAISSANCE PILOT WARBURTON HELPS ENEMY DESTROYER RESCUE SURVIVORS

A reconnaissance Spitfire from Malta today spotted a convoy including a 2000 ton merchant vessel escorted by a destroyer, off the Tripolitanian coast and heading east.  Three Beaufighters of 227 Squadron Luqa were despatched immediately to attack.

At 1130 hrs today they located the convoy and all three Beaufighters went in to attack at mast height.  One was shot down before it reached target.  The other hit the ship’s mast causing the plane to crash into the sea and killing the pilot, Flying Officer Peter Underwood and navigator Flight Sergeant Ivor Miller. The third Beaufighter dropped two 300 lb bombs and fired with cannon and machine gun but no results were seen.

Reconnaissance pilot Squadron Leader Adrian Warburton was still on the scene and spotted the dinghy of the aircraft of P/O Brice and Sgt Cole.  Despite being fired on by Italian fighters, he persevered in making contact with the enemy destroyer, to guide the ship to the location of the Beaufighter’s dinghy.  S/Ldr Warburton reported seeing the survivors picked up by the destroyer before he returned to base.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 OCTOBER TO DAWN 15 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Fair early morning; otherwise fine.  Very good visibility morning and afternoon.

0535-0640 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

0645 hrs  Eight JU 88s with fighter escort are reported approaching Malta.  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept.  W/Cdr Thompson, P/O Reid and P/O O’Brien each damage a ME 109.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are also scrambled and attack 20 German and Italian fighters head-on, north of St Paul’s Bay.  .  W/Cdr Donaldson damages one JU 88 before his Spitfire is forced to crash-land at Ta Qali; he is injured and admitted to hospital.

0707 hrs  Nine Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept and attack just north of Grand Harbour.  F/Lt Rolls destroys one JU 88; Sgt Park and F/O Wallace each destroy one ME 109.  Sgt Park also probably destroys one JU 88; Sgt Hending and F/Sgt Bush each damage one.  One Spitfire is lost and two damaged: pilots are unhurt.

0727 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight JU 88s with an escort of forty fighters approach the Island, the majority crossing the coast.  Bombs are dropped on Ta Qali rendering the aerodrome temporarily unserviceable.  There are two civilian casualties.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron attack six JU 88s as bombs are dropping on Ta Qali.  S/Ldr Woods and F/Sgt De Lara each damage one JU 88.

0741 hrs  Raiders passed.

0940 hrs  60 enemy aircraft including at least eight JU 88 bombers approach the Island in tight formation, with 20 ME 109s flying above as top cover.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled and intercept the raiders 20 miles north of Grand Harbour, attacking six JU 88s from astern and head-on.  Sgt Brough destroys one JU 88; Sgt Francis probably destroys one ME 109.  Sgt Lundy damages two JU 88s; F/Lt Glazebrook and P/O Nash each damage one.  One Spitfire is missing: P/O Nash is slightly injured in the face and is picked up by the Rescue Launch.

1026-1056 hrs  Air raid alert.  The remainder head for Hal Far.  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept and attack the raiders while they are diving to bomb the airfield.  W/Cdr Thompson destroys a JU 88; P/O Reid and Capt Kuhlmann each destroy a ME 109.  P/O Cheek probably destroys a JU 88 and damages another.  P/O Reid damages a JU 88; Sgt Tarbuck damages a JU 88 and a ME 109, and Capt Kuhlmann damages a ME 109.    Bombs are dropped on Hal Far and Safi, Wied Has Saptan, Ta Klantun and Ta Liebru, and anti-personnel bombs on Kirkop.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  As the enemy turn away they are attacked again, north west of Kalafrana.

Total enemy casualties three JU 88s and two ME 109s destroyed; one JU 88 and one ME 109 probably destroyed; six JU 88s and three ME 109s damaged.

1300 hrs  Nine JU 88s approach the Island, closely escorted by fighters.  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  P/O Beurling destroys two ME 109s and one JU 88.  P/O Giddings destroys one ME 109.  F/Lt Hetherington probably destroys one JU 88; Sgt Wynn probably destroys one ME 109.  P/O Giddings and Sgt Bryden each damage a JU 88 and P/O Williams damages two ME 109s.

1305 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  P/O Parkinson destroys one Macchi 202; S/Ldr Stephens destroys one Re 2001 and damages on JU 88.  Two Spitfires are damaged in combat; pilots are unhurt.

1310 hrs  Air raid alert.

1330 hrs  Seven JU 88s raid Hal Far, dropping high explosives and incendiaries on the aerodrome, causing craters.  Anti-personnel bombs are scattered over Regimental HQ and 14th Battery HQ of 4th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment.  Enemy raiders make skillful use of cloud cover during the raid.

1355 hrs  Raiders passed.

1510-1535 hrs  Air raid alert.  35 aircraft including 7 JU 88s approach the Island and are intercepted 15 miles north east of Zonqor.  Four ME 109s and one Re 2001 are destroyed; one JU 88 is probably destroyed; three JU 88s and two ME 109s damaged.

The remainder of the attackers head for Hal Far and are engaged over Kalafrana by eight Spitfires from Hal Far.  F/Sgt Maher destroys a JU 88 and Sgt Guy probably destroys a ME 109 and damages a JU 88.  Bombs are dropped on Hal Far aerodrome causing craters but no major damage.  Heavy Ack Ack fires.

1636 hrs  Air raid alert for ten JU 88s escorted by 40 fighters evidently turning in to head for Ta Qali.  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled and intercept the raiders to the east of Grand Harbour before they can cross the coast.  They attack the bombers head-on, forcing them to turn out to sea and away from their target.  Most of their bombers jettison their load into the sea.  Sgt Miller destroys one JU 88 and damages one; S/Ldr M M Stephens and P/O Johnson each damage one JU 88.  A few bombs are dropped in the Mosta area.  Heavy Ack Ack fire and share in the destruction of one JU 88.

1710 hrs  Observers of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report three bombers and a fighter (believed to be a Spitfire) in the sea off Grand Harbour.

1715 hrs  Raiders passed.

2100-2110 hrs  Air raid alert.  10 enemy bombers approach Malta: all but one turn back before crossing the coast, dropping their bombs in the sea all round the north coast of the Island.  Some high explosives and incendiaries are dropped between Bugibba and Salina, and across to Mosta.  Heavy Ack Ack fire and Malta fighters are airborne but do not engage.

2145 hrs  Five enemy fighter bombers launch a dive-bombing attack on the RAF station at Qawra Tower and Headquarters of C Company, 2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.

2200 hrs  A Company, 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report bombs in the Latnia area.  E Company report bombs in the area of St Mary’s Battery.

0205-0435 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight enemy bombers approach the Island but only two cross the coast, dropping bombs on Ta Qali, Ghain Tuffieha and Hamrun.  Malta Beauffighters are airborne and one sees a HE 111 approaching at 12000 feet.  The fighter dives from 15000 feet to attack, lowering his undercarriage to avoid overshooting.  He fires at the enemy raider from astern, causing it to explode and crash into the sea.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Ivor Miller, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR), 227 Squadron; Sergeant Ronald Roe, Royal New Zealand Air Force, 1435 Squadron; Squadron Leader Peter Underwood, RAF VR, 227 Squadron; Flight Sergeant William Williams, Royal Australian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Francis Fenech, age 18.  Msida  Anthony Zahra, age 11.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 14 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept P 211 in from sea; the latter reported having driven a 900 ton steamer ashore by gunfire and subsequently destroyed it by torpedo. She also reported two other merchant vessels successfully attacked with torpedoes.  Fleet Air Arm obtained one hit on a 7000 merchant vessel which was subsequently beached at Homs.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Liberator from LG 224; one Beaufighter from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Beauforts to Shallufa.  Aircraft casualties  Two Spitfires shot down by enemy fighters: pilots missing.  One Beaufighter damaged by enemy action crash-landed: crew uninjured.

Four Spitfires damaged in enemy action: one pilot injured.  Three Spitfires shot down by enemy action into sea: pilots rescued, two uninjured, one slightly injured. Two Beaufighters damaged by enemy action while on shipping strike, crashed into the sea: crews missing.

HAL FAR  1925-0032 hrs  Two Albacores and one Swordfish of the RNAS were despatched to attack 7000 ton merchant vessel escorted by two destroyers off the coast of Tripoli.  One torpedo hit the merchantman amidships, which was later observed to be stationary.

LUQA  One Wellington 69 Squadron attacked an enemy convoy south east of Malta.  Two 1000 lb bombs were dropped but no results were observed.  Four Wellingtons 69 Squadron were sent out later to complete the attack.  All the aircraft found the convoy: one torpedo and two 1000 lb bombs were dropped but no results were observed.

TA QALI  The runway is unserviceable for ten minutes for inspection after an air raid: no significant damage.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  During the period 8-14 October the Battalion has found two impressed lorries, one motor cycle and five Other Ranks for work on Hal Far aerodrome.  Twin Lewis guns have been manned for Anti-aircraft defence of the Safi Strip during the hours of daylight.

15 October 1942: Luftwaffe Fighter Bombers Target Malta

  • Enemy send ten fighters to protect one bomber.
  • Enemy raiders are now dropping flares only – the reason is unclear, as following raiders rarely take advantage of the light to drop bombs on the illuminated area.
  • Since the beginning of intensified air attack Army has increased the number of soldiers assisting RAF in maintenance of aircraft and aerodromes to 500 daily.

MP SUGGESTS ISLAND SHOULD BE KNOWN AS ‘MALTA GC’

Walter Higgs MP

Mr Walter Higgs, MP for Birmingham West, today asked the Prime Minister in the House of Commons whether he is aware that an official proclamation to the effect that henceforth Malta should be known and addressed as Malta GC would meet with general approval; and will he make the necessary announcement?

MALTA AIR FORCES SCORE STRIKE ON AXIS MERCHANTMAN

Two Albacores in co-operation with a Swordfish were sent out tonight to attack a 7000 ton merchant vessel and two destroyers which had left Patras on a south westerly course.  They found it at 2153 hours, 80 miles north east of Homs and one Albacore scored a direct hit amidships.  The other Albacore which was not able to get into a suitable position to attack while the flares dropped by the Swordfish were still alight brought its torpedo back. 

Wellington bomber

The merchant vessel was left almost stationary and was found 1½ hours later by a Wellington which dropped to 1000 lb bombs but they fell wide.  Later in the night the convoy was attacked again by Wellingtons with one torpedo and two 1000 lb bombs but no results were observed owing to a partially effective smoke screen put up by one of the destroyers.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 OCTOBER TO DAWN 16 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Mainly fine; lightning early morning and late evening.

0650 hrs  A massive formation of some 60 enemy fighters escorting six JU 88s approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and are attacked by ME 109s: Sgt Wynn destroys one.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron and eight 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept but do not engage.

0705 hrs  Air raid alert.  Dogfights ensue as Malta fighters engage the enemy over Kalafrana, off Zonqor Point and over the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled and attack the formation.  Despite being outnumbered over fifteen to one, S/Ldr Stephens attacks enemy bombers head on, following one bomber down to sea-level and chasing it 20 miles out to sea before finally shooting it down in flames.  He is then attacked by six enemy fighters but returns fire, destroying one of the ME 109s.  His aircraft is badly shot up and he returns to base, surviving a crash-landing. 

The eight Spitfires 249 Squadron also press on to attack the bombers.  P/O Moody destroys one JU 88.  P/O Williams probably destroys one JU 88; P/O Giddings damages one.

0722 hrs  The remaining four JU 88s come in and drop bombs near Luqa aerodrome and in the Kirkop area.

0740 hrs  C Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a Spitfire down in the sea off Leonardo with a baler-out nearby.  An anti-personnel bomb explodes 25 yards from a post of B Company.

0755 hrs  Raiders passed.

0935 hrs  About 40 enemy fighters, including 15 carrying bombs are reported approaching Malta.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and engage the enemy north of the Island.  Many raiders drop their bombs out to sea, as well as on Marfa and Mellieha Bay, where one civilian is killed and two injured.  A few bombs fall on Gozo.  249 Squadron are jumped by ME 109s flying in pairs and threes.  Sgt Wynn damages one ME 109.  Two Spitfires crash-land and a third ditches into the sea: Sgt Bryden is rescued with a fractured leg.

0940 hrs  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept but do not engage.

1005 hrs  Air raid alert as the raiders approach the coast.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron and four 126 Squadron are airborne to intercept the raid: no claims.

1047 hrs  Raiders passed.

1151-1337 hrs  Air raid alert.  About 50 German and Italian fighters approach Malta but turn back before reaching the coast.  They appear to be searching for missing crews, and escorting ambulance aircraft.  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept.  They see a float plane with fighter escort 35 miles north of the Island.  F/Lt Charney and F/Sgt Maher each destroy a Macchi 202; Major Swales and Sgt Garvey damage one each.

1235-1355 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to act as cover for 185 Squadron.  Enemy aircraft are sighted but cannot be brought into contact.

1358-1430 hrs  Air raid alert.  30 enemy fighters including at least seven ME 109 fighter bombers approach the Island.  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol attack, forcing most of the raiders to to drop their bombs in the sea.  Bombs are also dropped on the Ta Qali and Mosta areas.

1610 hrs  Nine JU 88s approach the Island with an escort of 50 fighters.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and engage the enemy.  F/Lt Glazebrook damages one JU 88; Sgt Francis damages one Macchi 202.

1616 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron attack the enemy formation head-on over Kalafrana Bay, causing them to jettison their bombs.  S/Ldr Woods destroys one ME 109 and damages a JU 88; P/O Yates and Sgt Stead probably destroy one ME 109; several other enemy aircraft are damaged.  1st Bn Cheshire Regt report seeing two enemy bombers crashing into the sea just off Grand Harbour.  The port engine of one had been shot off.  Three Spitfires are damaged (pilots unhurt); one Spitfire is lost and F/Sgt Hiskens is reported missing.

1640 hrs  Seven JU 88s drop bombs on the Safi strip and other bombs and incendiaries on Tal Liebru, Luqa, Kirkop and Marsa.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.

1704 hrs  Raiders passed.

1912-1920 hrs  Air raid alert.  One enemy aircraft approaches but turns back twenty miles east of the Island.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagements.

1922-1928 hrs  Two Beaufighters 89 Squadron Luqa are airborne on intercept patrol but see no enemy aircraft.  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron is scrambled to intercept two enemy aircraft approaching the island, one of which crosses the coast: no engagement.

1940-2034 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft approach the Island; one crosses the coast.  Bombs are dropped in the sea off Grand Harbour and St Paul’s Bay.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagements.

2028 hrs  Bombs are dropped near a defence post of C Company, 2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.

2124-2158 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four enemy aircraft approach; three cross the Island.  Bombs are dropped in the sea east of Grand Harbour and on land at Zonqor Point.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagements.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.

0220-0443 hrs  Air raid alert.  Nine bombers approach the Island, four crossing the coast.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Bombs are dropped in the St Paul’s Bay and Wardia areas and in the sea.  Flares are dropped over Benghaisa Point.  Three Beaufighters 89 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: one sees an enemy raider crash north of Cape Passero.

Military casualties  Warrant Officer Edwin Hiskens, Royal Australian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Gzira  Joseph Scicluna, age 48.  Mellieha  Arthur Calleja, age 6.  Sliema  Joseph Letard, age 65.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 15 OCTOBER 1942

P 212 HMS Sahib

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy swept P 212 to sea and P 46 in. The latter reported as having sunk on loaded merchant vessel and one in ballast.

AIR HQ  Departures  One Liberator, two Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  Two Spitfires damaged in enemy action: pilots uninjured.  Three Spitfires shot down by enemy fighters: both pilots baled out and were rescued, injured.  Two Spitfires damaged by enemy action crashed on landing: pilots uninjured.  One Spitfire forced to land during enemy action: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire missing over sea following enemy action: pilot missing.

HAL FAR  2300-0215 hrs  One Swordfish is sent on anti E boat patrol: nothing sighted.

LUQA  Two Baltimores 69 Squadron were despatched in search of an enemy convoy.  One Spitfire 69 Squadron carried out photographic reconnaissance of Benghasi.

16 October 1942: Hurricane Hit in Friendly Fire Incident

A Hurricane aircraft was attacked this morning by a Spitfire six miles off Grand Harbour.  The friendly fire incident happened during the confusion of an expected air raid which had not materialised.  The alert was raised just before 8.30 am when eight Axis aircraft were reported patrolling the Kalafrana area.  However, four separate groups of Spitfires scrambled to intercept the raiders failed to locate any enemy planes.

Forty minutes after the scramble, a Hurricane was despatched to search for a missing pilot was recalled with the expectation of imminent action.  Once the ‘raiders passed’ signal was given, a Hurricane was again sent on a rescue mission.  However, the Spitfires were still in the air on the look-out for hostile aircraft: one caught a glimpse of the Hurricane and fired before realising it was friendly.  The Hurricane sustained damage but landed safely: the pilot escaped injury.

137 UNEXPLODED BOMBS IN 7 DAYS

A massive increase in the number of unexploded bombs has resulted from recent enemy air activity.  The intercept tactics now used by RAF Squadrons are costing the enemy dearly – but raiders under attack jettison more bombs.  137 UXB reports have been received by Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal in the week since the Axis renewed heavy air raids on Malta.  All the reports are concentrated around the three airfields of Hal Far, Luqa and Ta Qali, and on the north east coast of the Island.

Anti-personnel bomb canister

A third of the reports were for high explosives, the rest were anti-personnel bombs or incendiaries.  The Luftwaffe is using mainly 50kg bombs again: more of them can be loaded onto each aircraft and, with fewer planes reaching target, a single bomber getting through can drop a greater number of bombs in one attempt.

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 OCTOBER TO DAWN 17 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Fine; little or no cloud.

0625-0745 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

0649 hrs  50 enemy aircraft including eight JU 88s approach the Island.

0701 hrs  Air raid alert.   Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept.  The raiders are attacked 5-10 miles north of Grand Harbour.  Capt Kuhlmann and P/O Reid each probably destroy a MU 88; P/O O’Brien damages another and Sgt Gore damages a ME 109.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron and seven 126 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled and engage the raiders.  126 Squadron Sgt Park destroys one ME 109.  Two Spitfires are lost: F/O Wallace and Sgt Wilson are missing.  1435 Squadron P/O Owen probably destroys one ME 109 and damages another; Sgt Harrison damages one JU 88 and F/Lt McLeod one ME 109.  One Spitfire is damaged.  The enemy bombers are forced to jettison their bombs over the sea.  Some bombs fall on land at Sliema and St Julian’s, damaging civilian property and injuring thirteen.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.

0725 hrs  C Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a fighter crashed in the sea four miles out from Della Grazia.

0742 hrs  Raiders passed.

0800 hrs  D Company 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a Spitfire crashed into the sea two miles due north of Grand Harbour.

0829-0946 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight enemy aircraft approach the Island and patrol the Kalafrana area.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept: no sightings.

0900 hrs  Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no combat.  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron are also airborne on interception: no sightings.

0905 hrs  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled but encounter no enemy aircraft.

0910 hrs  One Hurricane from Hal Far is dispatched to search for a missing pilot but is recalled before beginning the search.

0946 hrs  One Hurricane searches 042 degrees Grand Harbour 6 miles but is attacked by a Spitfire: the aircraft is damaged but the pilot is unhurt.

0950 hrs  More than 60 enemy aircraft approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and engage enemy aircraft.  Sgt Francis destroys one ME 109; Sgt Ballantyne and P/O Reynolds each damage one JU 88.

0952 hrs  Air raid alert.  Fighters carry out a sweep of the Island.  Six Spitfires 1435 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  F/Lt McLeod destroys one ME 109.

1010 hrs  Seven JU 88s cross the coast near Hal Far and drop bombs on the airfield, slightly damaging an aircraft on the ground.  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron make a head-on attack on bombers as they bomb the airfield.  F/Sgt Lara destroys one JU 88; S/Ldr Woods and F/O McElroy each damage one.  P/O Lowrey damages one ME 109.  Two Spitfires are lost: one pilot is safe but injured; F/Sgt Carter is shot down into the sea and is missing.  Four Spitfires are damaged in combat: pilots unhurt.

1045-1235 hrs  One Hurricane from Hal Far searches for the missing pilot: no sightings.  Four Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: no sightings.

1050 hrs  Raiders passed.

1250 hrs  35 enemy fighters, including ME 109 fighter bombers, approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept.  They see four ME 109s but the raiders are too far away and flying too fast to be intercepted.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept 35 enemy fighters including fighter bombers: no engagement.

1300-1340 hrs  Air raid alert.  The raiders cross the coast at over 25000 feet.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Bombs are dropped near Mqabba and in the Mellieha area before escaping towards Sicily.

1505-1612 hrs  Two Hurricanes from Hal Far are dispatched to search for a missing pilot: nothing sighted.

1535 hrs  A massive formation of eight JU 88s with an escort of 60 fighters including six fighter bombers approaches the Island in six waves.  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled and attack the seven JU 88s and six ME 109 fighter bombers.  P/O Williams destroys one JU 88 and Sgt Wynn probably destroys one.  F/Lt Hetherington and Sgt Budd each damage a JU 88.

1540 hrs  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  Sgt Miller probably destroys one JU 88 and damages another; F/Lt Parkinson also damages one.

1615 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven Spitfires 1435 Squadron and ten 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  126 Squadron Sgt Cherran destroys one JU 88; Sgt Marshall probably destroys one ME 109; Sgt Tiddy and Sgt Roberts each damage one JU 88.  Sgt Tiddy damages one ME 109 and F/Lt Jones damages one Macchi 202.  1435 Squadron P/O Walton, Sgt Fuller and Sgt Eva each damage one JU 88. Three Spitfires are damaged in combat: pilots unhurt.

1630 hrs  The bombers, fighters and fighter bombers cross the coast in six waves.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Four JU 88s attack Luqa, destroying one Beaufighter on the ground and damaging another, before receding south.  4th Bn Heavy Ack Ack Regiment guns at XHB 8 claim a direct hit on one JU 88 which is then seen to crash into the sea: claim one JU 88 destroyed.  The ME 109s bomb Ta Qali, rendering the aerodrome temporarily unserviceable and injuring two civilians.

1655 hrs  Raiders passed.

1700 hrs  2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers Beat the Retreat in Castille Square.

1831-1844 hrs  Air raid alert.  One aircraft crosses the coast but no bombs are dropped.  Beaufighters of 89 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept: no engagement.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.

2332-2350 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft approach the Island and cross the coast, dropping flares north west of Ta Qali.  Bombs and incendiaries are dropped on the St Paul’s Bay and Rabat areas.  Beaufighters of 89 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept: no raiders seen.

0246-0335 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six enemy aircraft approach the Island; only one crosses the coast.  All bombs are dropped in the sea.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagement.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.

Military casualties  Warrant Officer II Peter Carter, Royal Canadian Air Force, 249 Squadron; Flying Officer Edward Wallace, Royal Canadian Air Force, 126 Squadron; Flight Sergeant William Wilson, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 1435 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties (known)  Wallenburger and Wehner: crew members of a JU 88 bomber picked up from the sea by RAF Launch.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 16 OCTOBER 1942

HMS Hythe

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept in P 43 who reported having sunk an 8000 ton southbound merchant vessel.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One DC 3 from LG 224. Aircraft casualties  Four Spitfires damaged due to enemy action: one pilot baled out, rescued uninjured; two pilots crash-landed, one injured.  Two Spitfires missing from enemy action: pilots missing.

LUQA  One Baltimore 69 Squadron was despatched on reconnaissance with one Spitfire 69 Squadron on photo-reconnaissance.  2330-0300 hrs  One Wellington 69 Squadron was despatched to locate and illuminate one merchant vessel sighted by the Baltimore.  Flares were dropped.

17 October 1942: Spitfires Must Win 2nd Battle of Malta

AIR OFFICER COMMANDING RALLIES RAF

The following message has been sent by AOC Mediterranean addressed to Spitfire pilots: “Grand work fighter boys.  Your magnificent fighting in the last five days is being watched not only in Malta but by the RAF on other fronts as well as by our Russian allies.  Although heavily outnumbered last May Malta Spitfires came out on top and I am confident that you will win the second battle of Malta.  Some of the enemy bomber squadrons have already shown that they cannot take it.  Keep it up and in a few days the other German bombers will throw up the sponge.  Replacement Spitfires and pilots are on the way but there is still some stiff fighting to finish the job.  Good luck to you and good shooting.”

Army operated fuel bowser

A second message is addressed to all maintenance personnel:  “Your part in the present battle for Malta is greatly appreciated but serviceability of Spitfires continues to fall.  You can and must get it up again.  Where you have worked hard you must work harder and faster.  Give the fighter boys Spitfires and they will drive the Hun out of the sky.”

RAF CLAIM SCALPS OF TWO LUFTWAFFE AIR ACES

Two highly decorated Luftwaffe ‘gruppenkommandeure’ (group commanders) were killed in air battles over Malta today.

GKmdr Major Heinrich Paekpcke was pilot of the leading JU 88 of seven bombers attacking early this morning when his aircraft was involved in a head-on collision with a Spitfire just off the coast to the south east of Valletta.  Both pilots were killed instantly, although the three other Luftwaffe crewmen seen to bail out before the bomber hit the water.  Spitfire pilot Flight Lieutenant Jones was a member of 126 Squadron sent to intercept the enemy raiders.

Gerhard Kollewe

Bomber pilot GKmdr Gerhard Kollewe was flying one of seven JU 88s and nine ME 109 fighter bombers which launched a heavy bombing raid over Malta just after noon today.  His bomber was shot down into the sea during an air battle with Malta Spitfires intercepting the raid off the coast of Valletta. Kollewe and his crew baled out but he and observer Feldwebel Bernhard Mähler were killed. Radio operator Oberfeldwebel Martin Assum and aerial gunner Feldwebel Paul Ballof were rescued alive and taken prisoner of war.

Heinrich Paepcke and Gerhard Kollewe were highly decorated Luftwaffe commanders, among the elite recipients of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross, awarded for extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING 17 OCTOBER 1942

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

1.  Enemy air offensive during daylight resumed with great suddenness on 11 October.  Tactics: 6-8 JU 88s escorted by 30-50 fighters making an average of four raids daily on aerodromes.  These tactics are the same as the beginning of 1942 but with much increased fighter support.  The latter proved most necessary but did not prevent heavy losses German Air Force.  Spitfires made magnificent interceptions, many 15-20 miles north of Gozo and destroyed 49 JU 88s and 59 fighters, probably destroyed 27 JU 88s and 21 fighters and damaged 67 JU 88s and 64 fighters.  Heavy Ack Ack destroyed one JU 88 and damaged another.  As the week progressed, the determination to force home attacks grew weaker and bombs fell further and further from the aerodromes, eg Wardia Ridge, Mellieha and in the sea.  German Air Force towards the end of the week were forced to use fighter bombers.  Malta casualties only 24 Spitfires lost (11 pilots safe) but many damaged.  Little damage to aircraft on the ground or aerodromes.  Photo reconnaissance shows that numbers of aircraft in Sicily continue to increase – now total 660 including 196 German bombers and 238 fighters.

2.  During darkness approximately 100 bombers, of which only 34 crossed the coast.  These attacks were not characterised by the same determination as daylight attacks early in the week.  Bombs in scattered localities; little damage.  Beaufighters destroyed four HE 111s, probably destroyed another.  Heavy Ack Ack destroyed one bomber.  Approximately 33 per cent illuminations by searchlights.

3.  Own air attacks on convoys by a small number of Beaufighters, Albacores and Wellingtons resulted in one merchant vessel 7000 tons hit.

4.  Working parties were increased to assist RAF in maintaining aerodromes and aircraft.  Many UXBs dealt with.

5.  Military damage negligible.  Some damage civilian property and civilian casualties.  Military casualties one Other Rank killed, nine wounded.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 OCTOBER TO DAWN 18 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Mainly fine.

0635 hrs  Seven JU 88s with an escort of some 25 fighters approach the Island.  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to locate the enemy fighters but do not engage.

0645 hrs  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept.  F/Lt Charney damages one Macchi 202.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron and four 1435 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled to intercept and engage the enemy 12 miles east of Zonqor, forcing them to jettison their bombs in the sea.  126 Squadron P/O Thompson, W/Cdr Hanks and P/O Stevenson each destroy one JU 88; F/Sgt Varey destroys one ME 109.  Sgt Yeatman and F/Sgt Varey probably destroy one JU 88 each.  1435 Squadron S/Ldr Lovell damages one JU 88.  One Spitfire is damaged (pilot unhurt).  F/Lt Jones crashes into a JU 88, bringing it down: heis missing.

0648 hrs  Air raid alert.  A few remaining aircraft cross the coast and drop bombs on scattered areas from Naxxar to Madliena.  The ME 109s drop their bombs on Ta Qali.  Four ME 109 fighter bombers launch a further attack on Qawra Tower area.

0725-0900 hrs  One Hurricane from Hal Far is airborne on a search for missing airmen: nothing sighted.

0735 hrs  Raiders passed.

0800-0900 hrs  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no sightings.

0915-1100 hrs  One Hurricane from Hal Far is airborne on a search for missing airmen: nothing sighted.

0938-1007 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight ME 109s approach to within three miles of Grand Harbour, suspected to be searching for survivors.  Malta fighters are airborne but do not engage.

1133 hrs  75 enemy aircraft including seven JU 88s and nine ME 109 fighter bombers are reported approaching the Island. Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and attack five JU 88s with escort plus six ME 109 fighter bombers.  F/Lt Hetherington destroys one JU 88; P/O Giddings destroys one ME 109.  P/O Seed probably destroys one JU 88; Sgt Budd probably destroys one ME 109 and P/O Moody damages one.

1152 hrs  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept.  Sgt Smith and F/Lt Charney each damage one JU 88; P/O Park damages two others and one ME 109.  Sgt Garvey is shot up and crash lands: his aircraft catches fire and he is injured.

1158 hrs  Six Spitfires 229 Squadron attack five JU 88s with fighter escort and six ME 109 fighter bombers head on.  F/Lt Parkinson destroys one ME 109.  One Spitfire does not return: pilot Sgt Miller is missing.

1210 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  Sgt Tiddy destroys one JU 88 which is seen to crash into the sea at 1232 hrs.  One Spitfire is damaged: the pilot is unhurt.  The remaining raiders cross the coast.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  The JU 88s drop bombs on Birkirkara, Sliema, Naxxar and Gharghur, demolishing several houses and damaging others.  Bombs fall opposite the Officers’ Mess of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment in Birkirkara.

1244 hrs  Ta Qali aerodrome is attacked by six ME 109 fighter bombers: no significant damage is caused.

1314 hrs  Raiders passed.

1502-1513 hrs  Air raid alert.  Enemy fighters approach to within 3 miles north of Comiso on a search for survivors.  Malta fighters are airborne but do not engage.

1630 hrs  60 enemy aircraft including ten ME 109 fighter bombers approach from several directions at a great height. Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but do not engage.

1637 hrs  Eight Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept: one is damaged in combat and another crash-lands with undercarriage trouble.

1652 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron and eight 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  The remaining raiders cross the coast and bombs are dropped in the sea and on land in St Paul’s Bay area.

1701 hrs  Four enemy fighters launch a dive-bombing attack on the RAF station at Qawra Tower and Headquarters of C Company 2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.  The raiders are engaged by anti-aircraft fire from Qawra Tower.

1735 hrs  Raiders passed.  Enemy casualties: nil.  Three Spitfires are damaged in combat; pilots unhurt.

1800 hrs  15 enemy bombers approach the Island at dusk.   Three Beaufighters 89 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept but do not locate the raiders.

1810 hrs  Air raid alert.  Most of the bombers cross the coast and dive-bomb Kalafrana, damaging a hangar, and on Birzebbugga.  High explosive, anti-personnel and incendiary bombs are dropped on Hal Far airfield and Safi in another dive-bombing attack, causing craters near the runway and damaging one Spitfire.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  One HE 111 is destroyed.

1846 hrs  Raiders passed.

0024-0058 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy aircraft approach Malta.  One crosses the coast dropping flares over St Paul’s Bay and a delayed action bomb on Ta Qali.  Other bombs are dropped in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Beaufighters 89 Squadron are airborne to intercept enemy raiders but see no aircraft.

0315-0352 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four enemy bombers approach the Island but only one crosses the coast, dropping flares.  The other three drop their bombs in the sea north of the Island.  Beaufighters 89 Squadron are airborne: no engagement.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.

Military casualties  Flight Lieutenant Ripley Jones, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR), 126 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Ronald Miller, RAF VR, 229 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Anthony Camilleri, age 40; Carmela Gatt, age 45; George Zammit, age 8.

Enemy casualties (known)  Oberfeldwebel Walter Boerner and Feldwebel Edwald Futterknecht, air gunner and crewman of a JU 88 bomber, picked up from the sea and taken prisoner; Gruppenkommandeure (GKmdr) Gerhard Kollewe pilot of JU 88 bomber shot down into the sea and killed; GKmdr Major Heinrich Paekpcke, pilot of a JU 88 bomber collided with a Spitfire and killed; Unteroffizier Erwin Seibt, Wireless Operator of a JU 88 bomber, picked up from the sea and taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 17 OCTOBER 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  Two Spitfires missing due to enemy action: pilots missing.  Four Spitfires damaged by enemy action: one pilot uninjured; three crashed – one pilot injured.

HAL FAR  2032-0122 hrs  One Swordfish and one Albacore were despatched to attack a 7000 ton merchant vessel previously attacked on 14 October and discovered beached near Homs Harbour.  The Swordfish returned early with engine trouble, jettisoning the torpedo.  The Albacore located the target but cloud cover over the moon prevented him making an accurate attack.  He dropped a torpedo but observed no results.

LUQA  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron on patrol over Catania sees a HE 111 on the runway and destroys it.  One Spitfire 69 Squadron carried out photo-reconnaissance of Benghasi and another made a photo-recce of Homs.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  The Battalion is now finding one Officer and 50 Other Ranks for aerodrome maintenance, refuelling and maintaining Spitfires on Luqa air base.  One NCO and 18 men are working in support of the Royal Engineers Tunnelling Company working on the aerodrome.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 137.  Dealt with: 22 High Explosives, including 6 delayed action (8 x 250kg, 14 x 50kg) plus anti-personnel bombs and oil incendiaries.

(1)  Papers of Group Captain Arthur Donaldson, DSO, DFC, AFC, from The Air Battle for Malta, the Diaries of a Spitfire Pilot, James Douglas Hamilton, Pen & Sword 2006

 

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

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27 September-3 October 1942: Disease Now a Greater Threat Than Bombs

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27 September 1942: Beaufighter Shot Down by Friendly Fire

A RAF pilot has died and his observer is in a critical condition after friendly fire struck their aircraft over Malta.  The Beaufighter of 89 Squadron was one of two which had to return early from a patrol to intercept enemy raiders.  As they approached, the Island’s anti-aircraft positions were on ‘Guns Tight’, orders to shoot only at aircraft once they had been identified.  However, the guns covering the approach to Luqa airfield were still on ‘Guns Free’ – ready to fire at any aircraft.

Beaufighter 39 Squadron at Luqa

Spotting an unidentified aircraft headed for Luqa, the gunners opened fire.  The Beaufighter pilot took evasive action, turning away from the airfield and looping back to make another attempt at landing.  But the aircraft had lost too much height and he was forced to crash land.  The Beaufighter burst into flames.  The pilot escaped from the top hatch as Royal Artillery personnel rushed to the scene, managing to rescue the observer, Pilot Officer Alfred Cumbers, who was badly burned.  Despite suffering relatively minor burns the pilot, Flight Lieutenant John Waddingham, died later in hospital from shock.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 28 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Good; visibility good.

No air raid warnings.

0735-0820 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

Military casualties  Flight Lieutenant John Waddingham, Royal Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 27 SEPTEMBER 1942

P 35 HMS Umbra

ROYAL NAVY  P 35 attacked a large escorted merchant vessel but, as the first torpedo failed to sink her, she later followed up and attacked by moonlight, and obtained a further hit.  ML 459 and Swona carried out sweeping operations in St. Paul’s Bay and approaches. No mines were swept.  Beauforts unsuccessfully attacked an enemy convoy with torpedoes.

AIR HQ  Night  Three Beauforts of 39 Squadron were despatched to attack a southbound enemy convoy in the Ionian Sea.  Only one aircraft found the convoy which comprised four destroyers and a 5000 ton merchant vessel 120 miles south west of Cape Matapan proceeding on a sourtherly course at 12 knots.  One torpedo was dropped but owing to poor visibility the results were not observed.  Arrivals  One Liberator from LG 224; one Beaufort, one Wellington, one Hudson from Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  1100-1205 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron made a reconnaissance patrol over Sicily: no enemy activity.

TA QALI  No operations by 229 or 249 Squadrons.

28 September 1942: Navy Air Squadron in Convoy Attacks

Two night attacks were carried out tonight against shipping near Cape Spartivento, one by a Wellington of 69 Squadron and another by two Swordfish and two Albacores of the Royal Naval Air Service squadron based at Hal Far.

The Wellington left Malta this evening on the tail of a convoy of one 4000 ton merchant vessel and three destroyers which he located five miles north east of Spartivento, heading westwards.  The bomber launched a stick of four 500lb bombs at the merchantman and one burst very close to the stern.  Photographs taken later showed a merchant vessel, believed to be the one attacked, beached off Locri.

Albacore

Two hours later the four RNAS aircraft took off with orders to search for an enemy merchant vessel but found only a single Navigator Class destroyer about 20 miles off the toe of Italy.  They released two torpedoes, forcing the destroyer to take violent evasive action.  They reported a hit amidships followed by a large flash.  One Swordfish experienced intense and accurate light Ack Ack fire and was slightly damaged but returned safely to Hal Far.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 29 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

1705-1735 hrs  Air raid alert.  14 enemy fighters approach; only three cross the coast while the remainder patrolled to the north of the Island.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept: no engagement.

1815-1900 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron on anti-E boat patrol: nothing sighted.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 28 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Sweep of St Paul’s Bay completed and area now considered clear.  Rye swept P 44 out for patrol.

AIR HQ  Spitfires carried out two offensive reconnaissances over Sicily: no enemy aircraft sighted.  Arrivals  Two Marylands from ADU 201 Group; three Beauforts, two Hudsons from Gibraltar. Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Liberator to LG 224; one Cant 506 to Aboukir.

TA QALI  229 Squadron stood down.  1325-1425 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol (one spare returned early): no sightings.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  1130-1300 hrs  100 Men of B Company and 100 of C Company stood by in the Dockyard in case of rioting.  Trouble was expected as the ASM was seeing a delegation of workmen who advocated more pay etc.  No incidents of any kind occurred: everything was quite normal.

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Three day scheme began to test mobile role of Battalion.

29 September 1942: Enemy Fighter Strength Up

AOC MED CONGRATULATES RAF LUQA

Two messages have been received at RAF Luqa from Air Officer Commanding, RAF Mediterranean:

Sir Arthur Tedder, AOC RAF Middle East 1942

“Well done 69 Squadron.  Your good reconnaissance made possible torpedo attack on a fat enemy merchant vessel.  Keep it up.”

“Well done 39 Squadron.  Lieutenant Tilley put up a first rate show in his determination to attack in most unpleasant weather conditions.  A good job well carried out.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 30 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility good.

0930-1020 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far on patrol: nothing sighted.

1112-1205 hrs  Air raid alert.  30 ME 109s approach the Island in four or five waves.  Ten Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but do not engage.  Only 15 enemy fighters cross the coast.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1610-1635 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six ME 109s cross the coast and then patrol south of Filfla.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.

1600-1720 hrs  Nine Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft (one spare returned early).  Enemy fighters are sighted but turn ‘up sun’ and get away.  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron are also scrambled: nothing sighted.

1815-1905 hrs  Two Spitfires Ta Qali on anti-shipping patrol: no sightings.

2100-2110 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy bomber: bombs in the sea.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Mgarr  Santo Abela, age 14.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 29 SEPTEMBER 1942

Minesweeper HMS Speedy

AIR HQ  23 Spitfire sorties over Sicily during the day: no combats.  Arrivals  One DC3 from LG 224; three Hudsons, two Beauforts from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar; one Spitfire to Heliopolis.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort missing in transit between Gibraltar and Malta.

HAL FAR  1345-1545 hrs  Five Spitfires carried out a sweep over south east Sicily.  Enemy aircraft were sighted taking off from Comiso aerodrome and two E boats seen two miles off the coast: no combats.

TA QALI  0915-1010 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol over Sicily.  Enemy fighters were sighted but no combat took place.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  1130-1300 hrs  B and C Companies stood by again in the Dockyard in case of trouble.

30 September 1942: Meat and Fish Only Once a Week

The Government has announced a new menu for the Victory Kitchens, reducing the service of meat and fish to only once a week each (1):

  • Monday  Balbuljata (i) with peas
  • Tuesday  Macaroni with tomatoes
  • Wednesday  Minestra (ii)
  • Thursday Tinned fish, beans and tomatoes
  • Friday  Macaroni with tomatoes
  • Saturday  Minestra
  • Sunday  Meat with tomatoes and tinned beans

AIR RAID STATISTICS SEPTEMBER 1942

  • Total number of alerts to date  2927
  • Total number of alerts this month  57 
  • Air raid alerts night  17
  • Number of Blank Days 6
  • Number of Night raids 17
  • Raid Free Nights 13
  • Alerts for Own Planes 7
  • Total time from air raid alert to raiders passed  1 day, 2 hrs, 5 mins
  • Average length of alert 27.5 mins

Throughout the month the Army provided 200-250 men daily to assist the RAF in servicing aircraft, maintenance of aerodromes, etc.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 1 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility good.

0815-0830 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept: no sightings.  Alert believed to be triggered by returning friendly aircraft.

0845-0850 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no sightings.  Alert also believed due to friendly aircraft.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                              Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 30 SEPTEMBER 1942

AIR HQ  1540-1630 hrs  Offensive reconnaissance by four Spitfires over Sicily: no enemy aircraft sighted.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; four Beauforts to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort missing in transit between Malta and LG 224.

HAL FAR  185 Squadron released.

TA QALI  1540-1630 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol: no sightings.  1755-1850 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol crossed over Biscari and Comiso aerodromes: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Strength of Battalion: 30 Officers, 614 Other Ranks.

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  Personnel engaged on co-operational duties at Luqa aerodrome: 1 Officer, 62 Other Ranks night; 1 Officer, 108 Other Ranks day.

1st BN HAMPSHIRE REGT  Throughout September two twin Lewis guns were manned during daylight on Safi strips for anti-aircraft defence.  No rounds were fired at hostile aircraft.  Throughout the month working parties at Hal Far aerodrome were: two impressed lorries, four Other Ranks manning the lorries; one Other Rank with motor-cycle on special police duties.

4th HEAVY ACK ACK REGIMENT  During the month the Regiment has only fired 90 rounds ARBT.  A new form of night barrage has been evolved in which each RCR as before works out the datas for its own gun positions.  Plots are obtained from the GL at very 10th second immediately following the buzz made in the circuit from RCR; the buzzes are also made in the guns circuit.  The FCO [Fire Control Orders] orders ‘Immediate – height’ on the next buzz guns start a stop watch on each position.  The FCO now works out the co-ordinates of the barrage point, based on a time from the executive buzz of 55 seconds and orders the co-ordinates.  Guns work out the date and apply it; gun positions subtract the time of flight (say 17 seconds) from 55 and fire when their stop watch shows 38 seconds.

1st Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  The coast in the Battalion sector was vigilantly patrolled each night in September and a mobile platoon is also performing intensive patrolling on the Island of Gozo.

1 October 1942: Diseases Pose Greater Threat Than Bombs

EPIDEMIC CLAIMS MALTA MEDIC

Major Douglas Armstrong of the Royal Army Medical Corps whose death was announced last Thursday [24 September], lost his life due to a disease from which he had saved countless others.  Still in his twenties Major Armstrong, who had commanded Malta’s Field Hygiene Section since January 1941, struggled through the intense blitz of Malta while every other senior medical officer was lost to the service.  Fighting an epidemic which was proving an even greater threat to the Island’s population than enemy bombing, the Glasgow born doctor himself finally succumbed to the infection.

Conditions in shelters increase infection risk

A typhoid outbreak among civilians was first identified some months ago, with a concentration of cases around the Luqa area.  The disease was believed to be carried by flies rather than water-borne.

SCABIES ‘RAMPANT’

A significant percentage of Malta’s civilian population has been affected by scabies.  A figure of 20 per cent quoted in June is now believed to have at least doubled.  Causes include hygiene problems due to the scarcity of water and soap, and the crowded conditions in the Island’s shelters and emergency housing which make washing difficult and aid the spread of this highly contagious disease.  Troops have also been affected, at about half the rate of the population at large.  “It was the general belief then that scabies is caused by a combination of under nourishment and lack of hygiene…Scabies was rampant in 1942. There might have been cases earlier. I was stricken by scabies in 1943, at a time when it was supposed to have been relieving. Large red boils covered my feet, hands and my bottom. They itched a lot and made me scratch frantically…” J A Zahra, 2011

MALTA DOG

A debilitating condition now threatens to undermine the effectiveness of the Island’s fighting forces.  An unpleasant form of dysentery known to the troops as ‘Malta Dog’ attacks suddenly and weakens the constitution of servicemen already significantly underweight due to reduced rations.  Sufferers can be confined to bed for several days, unable to return to duties until their condition stabilises.

For about a fortnight I was really off colour with symptoms I will not mention, beyond saying that all food tasted like fat, and was difficult to swallow. In addition I had a prolonged attack of [‘Malta Dog’] a form of dysentry, painful and exhausting, but that seemed to be always with us.” (2)

JAUNDICE

“One morning I woke with a splitting headache and high temperature which persisted all day. This with long hours of duty with little leisure at last forced me to go to see the Naval Surgeon. As I walked in he greeted me with ‘Hello Mr. Austin!, got Jaundice?’  So that was it.

‘I am sorry to say that you can’t go to Hospital, Imtarfa and Bighi are full and St Patricks has over 500 cases of Jaundice. It is caused by rat contaminated butter’. He continued. ‘Beyond Epsom salts I have nothing else to prescribe. What you need is plenty of green salads, which are not available. You must go to bed, eat only dry toast and potatoes boiled in their jackets, tea without sugar and milk, and nothing else whatsoever’.  (2)

SHORTAGE OF MEDICAL SUPPLIES

The lack of regular supplies to Malta creates worrying shortages of medical supplies to tackle and prevent disease as well as to treat wounds.  The severely reduced rations, as well as threatening to cause malnutrition, weakens the immune system and aids the spread of infection.  Without the emergency ‘magic carpet’ deliveries of essential items by submarine, the Island will face possible multiple epidemics.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 OCTOBER TO DAWN 2 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Cloudy, then fair to fine.

0634-1310 hrs; 1517-1940 hrs  Four Baltimores 69 Squadron Luqa carry out a search to the south east of Malta for a missing Beaufort dinghy – not found.

1005-1010 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three plus fighters approach to within 15 miles of St Paul’s Bay.  Nine Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but see nothing.  The raiders do not cross the Island.

2112-2136 hrs  Air raid alert for three approaching enemy aircraft.  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa is airborne to intercept but sees nothing.  Bombs are dropped in the sea 30 miles north of the Island.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Joseph Menard, Royal Canadian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 1 OCTOBER 1942

P 46 HMS Unruffled

ROYAL NAVY  P 35 swept in by Hythe, and P 46 to sea. P 35 reported having sunk on escorted merchant vessel south west of Stravothi.  A flash and the sound of an explosion were reported by the military at about 2000 hrs, 8 miles west of El Blate. As P 46 was estimated to be in this position at the time, she was ordered to report, which she did at 2020.

AIR HQ  Spitfires carried out offensive reconnaissance over Sicily.  2130 hrs  Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Sicily.  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  Eight Beauforts to Shallufa.

HAL FAR  Owing to a severe crosswind 185 Squadron were not scrambled all day.

LUQA  0825 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron photographs one 6-7000 ton merchant vessel with an escort of two destroyers off Cape Armi.  0920-1035 hrs  Two Spitfires 1435 Squadron carried out reconnaissance patrol.  Two RE 2001s were sighted: S/Ldr Lovell damaged one.  1510 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron sighted two destroyers and two motor torpedo boats off Cape San Taranto.

TA QALI  1725-1820 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol: nothing sighted.

2 October 1942: Axis Troops Sick From Lack of Food

Axis troops lack food and water

A lack of food and water is causing significant sickness among Axis troops as Allied attacks disrupt supply runs through the Mediterranean.  Rommel’s Afrika Korps is now getting just a quarter of the supplies they need, thanks to combined air and sea offensives from Malta.

The German Field Marshal had informed Berlin that he needed 50,000 tons of supplies if his forces were to continue effective operations in North Africa.  During September alone, Allied Air and Naval forces in the Mediterranean have sunk 34000 tons of shipping at sea.  Daily attacks on enemy convoys by Malta’s bombers and submarines have disrupted convoys, crippling Axis tankers and merchant vessels.  Any supplies which did get through had to be landed at Tripoli and transported many miles to the battle front.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 OCTOBER TO DAWN 3 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Fair to cloudy at first; fair in the evening.

0746-0914 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled.  Blue Section patrols over Grand Harbour while Black Section carry out a sweep over south east Sicily: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1010-1130 hrs  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled for reported raiders which do not approach close to Malta: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1420-1550 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1615-1645 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron are airborne to provide cover for friendly aircraft: no enemy seen.

1800-1915 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on anti-E boat patrol: no sightings.

2140-2205 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy bombers approach close to the north east of Malta between 24000 and 28000 feet.  Two of the aircraft drop bombs in the sea, one five to ten miles east of Ta Silch and the other five miles north of Gharghur.  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa is scrambled to intercept but does not encounter the aircraft.

2200-0030 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron airborne on patrol: no enemy aircraft sighted.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 2 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Rorqual swept into Grand Harbour by Rye having arrived from Beirut with stores.

de Havilland Mosquito

AIR HQ  2200 hrs  Beaufighter on intruder patrol Sicily.  Arrivals  One Liberator from LG 224; one Spitfire from LG 28; one Mosquito from Benson.  Departures  Three Hudsons to Gibraltar; one Wellington, one Liberator to LG 224; six Beauforts to Shallufa; one Wellington to LG 208.

LUQA  0650-0750 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron were airborne on reconnaissance patrol: no enemy aircraft sighted.

TA QALI  0740-0850 hrs  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron (one spare returned early) on reconnaissance patrol over Sicily: no sightings.  0915-1035 hrs  Nine Spitfires 249 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol sighted two Macchi 202s and four ME 109s.  F/Sgt De Lara damaged one Macchi.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Thirty one Other Ranks were admitted to hospital suffering from suspected food poisoning.

1st Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  17 Platoon relieved 18 Platoon in Gozo.

3 October 1942: Enemy Bomber Force in Sicily Increased

Reports are coming in from Malta’s photo-reconnaissance pilots that enemy bomber numbers in Sicily are increasing.  After careful analysis of photographs covering Sicilian airfields at the end of September has produced estimates of 403 aircraft of all types.  Of these 83 are German bombers and 145 Italian bombers; 172 are Italian and German fighters.

PR SPITFIRE SPOTS CONVOY TARGET

This afternoon a Malta reconnaissance pilot reported an enemy convoy consisting of a 5000 ton merchant vessel escorted by three destroyers crawling south from Taranto.  Four Wellingtons – two carrying bombs and flares and two carrying torpedoes – were despatched to make a night attack on the convoy.  They found the ships 33 miles south east of Cape Santa Maria di Leuca.  Only one torpedo was launched and this scored a hit amidships on the merchant vessel, producing a red glow.  Four 1000 lb bombs were also dropped but the results could not be seen.  All aircraft returned safely to base.

FOOD POISONING HITS BATTALION

A possible outbreak of food poisoning has been reported by 1st Battalion Durham Light Infantry.  31 Other Ranks were admitted to hospital yesterday, followed by another 11 today, bringing the total number of cases to 42 out of a total of 614 men.

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING 3 OCTOBER 1942

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

1.  Enemy air – daylight:  six alerts for fighter sweeps totalling 92 aircraft.  No combats.  Night:  six aircraft approached – bombs in the sea.

2.  Own air – daylight:  Over 70 sorties of Spitfires over Sicily.  One RE 2001 damaged.  No losses.  Night: Total five Wellingtons sorties to attack convoys: near-misses bombs on two merchant vessels, probably torpedo hit merchant vessel.  Two Swordfish, two Albacore sorties to attack convoy: one torpedo hit amidships on destroyer.  No losses.

3.  Military damage and casualties: nil.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 OCTOBER TO DAWN 4 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Fair to fine.  Lightning late evening.

0645-0810 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on anti-E boat patrol.

Caproni Re 2001 Falco

0905-0941 hrs  Air raid alert.  21 ME 109s and RE 2001s carry out a fighter sweep: about half cross the coast at 28-32000 feet.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled with fighters of other Squadrons to intercept.  Enemy aircraft are sighted but no combat takes place.

0920-1000 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne to cover the minesweepers off Grand Harbour.

1019-1032 hrs  Air raid alert for 12 enemy aircraft approaching the Island.   Sixteen Spitfires are scrambled to intercept but the raiders recede when 25 miles off St Paul’s Bay.

1115-1155 hrs  Air raid alert: aircraft are identified as friendly.

1515-1630 hrs  Seven Spitfires 1435 Squadron are scrambled to intercept reported enemy raiders but they do not approach Malta – no aircraft are sighted.

2258-2309 hrs  Air raid alert: are identified as friendly.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Harold Sansome, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 3 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept Utmost out on patrol and then Parthian in with cargo from Gibraltar, followed by P 43 returning from patrol.

AIR HQ  12 Spitfire sorties on offensive reconnaissance over Sicily.  Arrivals  One DC3 from LG 224; two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One DC3 to LG 224.

LUQA  One Spitfire 69 Squadron carried out photo-reconnaissance from Taranto to Cape Maria Leuca.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Total number of personnel in hospital suffering from suspected food poisoning is forty-two.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 1.  Dealt with: High Explosives nil; anti-personnel bombs 17; oil incendiaries 11.

(i)  normally eggs scrambled with tomatoes and onions – in this case powdered eggs were used

(ii) soup with vegetables and pasta

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

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

 

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20-26 September 1942: Malta Forces Subdue Luftwaffe and Rommel

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20 September 1942: George Cross Presented to People of Gozo

Citadel, Victoria, Gozo

A ceremony was held today in Victoria to formally present the George Cross to the People of Gozo.  The counterpart to last Sunday’s Valletta presentation ceremony was held at It Tokk.  All the sister Island’s leading dignitaries were present including Monsignor Gonzi and Mr George Ransley, the Commissioner for Gozo.

MALTA’S MAIN CONCERN STILL LACK OF SUPPLIES

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

1.  During the month ended 20th September there were 59 alerts; 38 by day and 21 by night.  9 bombing raids; nil by day, 9 by night.  9 people were killed (4 men, 1 woman, 4 children); 11 were seriously injured (4 men, 3 women, 4 children).  15 houses were seriously damaged.

2.  The principal concern of the Government remains the control and the even distribution of commodities, both local and imported.  Apart from this, the main events of the period were the departure of Sir Edward Jackson and Locker and the arrival of Campbell as Acting Lieutenant-Governor.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 21 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility good.

No air raids.

1100-1230 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1702-1811 hrs  Ten Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far on patrol over the Island: nothing seen.

1715-1835 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties  Captain James Golding, Royal Army Pay Corps.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 20 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Surface plots were reported 15 miles off Grand Harbour, but faded by 0200 without having been confirmed.

AIR HQ  Twelve Spitfires carried out offensive recce over Sicily: no enemy aircraft sighted.  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Sicily attacked a ship 300 yards offshore near Licata.  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One DC 3 to LG 224.

HAL FAR  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron arrived as Ta Qali was under repair.

21 September 1942: Malta RAF is Helping Win the War, Says Air Marshal

The Air Officer Commanding, Malta has received the following letter from Marshal of the Royal Air Force Lord Trenhard:

“I am writing you a line to say that I had hoped to have come and visit you on my way to the Middle East.  I shall fly very near you but not come down as I am told every aeroplane is of value to take you supplies, and not to use your petrol.  Under the circumstances you will realise that I must agree to this but I am sorry from my own point of view.

B flight 249 Squadron July 42 (1)

I would like to congratulate you most heartily on what you are doing in Malta.  It is magnificent.  The Air Forces are great.  It is wonderful what they have done.  They have saved the situation everywhere and are pressing on with their work which will anyhow eventually be the great instrument for winning this war.

I do congratulate you also on the wonderful spirit that exists in Malta both in the Army and in the Air Force.  I am told, and believe it thoroughtly, that all work as one and I congratulate you and your staff, all the pilots, the maintenance crews and everyone.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 22 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility good.

1108-1136 hrs  Air raid alert.  Twelve enemy aircraft approach and observers detect and report a possible bombing raid.  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept but do not engage.  The attack develops into a small fighter sweep with few aircraft crossing the coast.  Malta’s fighters are airborne: no engagements.

1405-1505 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

1830-1930 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron carry out anti E boat patrol of the Sicilian coast: nothing sighted.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 21 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  With a view to eliminate the sharp turn in QBB 273 off Zonkor Point, and provide a transit line into Grand Harbour, Speedy, Hebe and Hythe carried out a clearance sweep of the small area of unswept water near Position 2, and also a strip four cables inshore of the inshore edge of the new leg of the proposed new channel.  One anti sweeping device was cut and sunk by rifle fire.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Wellington from LG 224; two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  1700-1821 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron carried out offensive reconnaissance over south east Sicily: no enemy activity.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  HQ Company fired machine-guns at Pembroke Range.  Battalion swimming competition vs 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.  Bn won the swimming events but 1st Bn KOMR beat us at water polo.

22 September 1942: George Cross Starts Tour of Malta

GC ARRIVES IN DINGLI

George Cross Display

The George Cross medal awarded to Malta was today taken to the village of Dingli, carried by the Inspector of Police with a small police guard.  Twelve buglers of the 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry played as the George Cross was carried in procession from the outskirts of the village to the church and placed on a plinth so that villagers could view it.  At the end of the ceremony, the Army buglers heralded the medal’s departure.

To recognise the endurance of the people of Malta, the George Cross will continue its tour to all parts of the Island, including Cottonera, Luqa, Marsa, Mellieha, Mgarr, Mosta, Mqabba, Empire Stadium, Paola, Qrendi, Siggiewi, Sliema, Rabat, Zabbar, Zebbug, Zurrieq, Safi, Senglea, Zejtun and Gharghur.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 23 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0845-0910 hrs  Air raid alert. Two ME 109s, believed to be on weather reconnaissance, approach to within six miles of the coast at 30,000 feet.  Malta’s fighters are airborne; no engagements.

1015-1130 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol over the Island: nothing seen.

1215-1245 hrs  Air raid alert.  18 enemy fighters approach the Gozo to St Paul’s Bay area at 25000 feet.  Nine Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled to intercept patrol: no engagement.

1835-1935 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on anti E boat patrol: nothing sighted.

2300-0310 hrs  One Swordfish from Hal Far carries out two anti E boat patrols: nothing sighted.

2305 hrs  Beach Company, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt is warned to look out for a Beaufighter which might force-land into the sea.

2351-0039 hrs  Five enemy aircraft approach, three of which cross the coast.  Two are definitely identified as JU 87s.  They drop 250kg bombs on Qrendi and on Delimara Heavy Ack Ack position, where there is one slight casualty.  Other bombs are dropped in the sea south of Ta Silch and north of St Paul’s Bay.  Searchlights illuminate one aircraft and Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

0023 hrs  A hostile shipping plot is reported ten miles off Grand Harbour.  Beach Companies Kings Own Malta Regiment are warned and Coastal Defences are ordered to open fire if necessary.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant James Burrett, Royal Australian Air Force;Sergeant William Doodson, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR);Flying Officer Aubrey Izzard, Royal Canadian Air Force; Flying Officer Ralph Jones, RAF VR; all 39 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 22 SEPTEMBER 1942

HMS Proteus

ROYAL NAVY  The new channel QBB 288 was declared open.  Speedy swept Proteus into harbour.  Swona swept to Marsaxlokk and back.  3rd ML Flotilla swept area to NE commenced on 15th and 16th but had to abandon the operation after 4 hours owing to the weather. 6 moored mines were cut.  Swona carried out SA and LL sweep of Marsaxlokk and approaches and also of QBB 273.  Hythe swept P 35 to sea and P 46 in from patrol. She reported having sunk a schooner and two merchant vessels.

AIR HQ  Spitfires carried out offensive recces over Sicily: no enemy sighted.  Nine Beauforts and seven Beaufighters despatched to attack enemy convoy of one tanker escorted by three destroyers.  One, possibly two hits on tanker.  One Beaufort missing, one Beaufighter damaged.

Arrivals  Two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort damaged by accompanying Beaufighter and crashed into the sea: crew missing.  One Beaufighter crashed into Beaufort while on operations: crew uninjured.  One Beaufighter damaged by enemy action crashed while attempting to land: crew slightly injured.

HAL FAR  1505-1610 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron patrol south east Sicily: nothing seen.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  C Company started their three day march.  Left billets at 0800 hrs, arrived at Mellieha Bay about 1215 hrs – distance about 13 miles.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  All Companies in the Battalion except C Coy began classification firing at Ghain Tuffieha.

23 September 1942: RAF Aircraft in Fatal Mid-Air Collision

The crew of a Malta based Beaufort were killed last night when their aircraft was in collision with a Beaufighter during an attack on an enemy convoy.  The Beaufort of 39 Squadron was one of nine sent with seven Beaufighters of 227 Squadron to target a 6000 ton tanker with three destroyers as escort, ten miles west of Antipaxos.  They reached their target as daylight was failing.

Beaufort 39 Squadron before take-off at Luqa

Two Beaufighters raked the leading destroyers with cannon fire, causing a small explosion on one, and succeeding in their objective of drawing the flak away from the torpedo-carrying Beauforts which attacked the tanker from port and starboard.  Eight torpedoes were released, scoring one definite hit and one possible hit on the tanker and causing an explosion.  Black smoke would be seen two miles away.  The other Beaufighters drove off three JU 88s accompanying the convoy.

During the mission one Beaufort collided with a Beaufighter and crashed into the sea.  The Beaufort crew are reported missing, presumed dead.  They have been named as Flight Sergeant James Burrett, Sergeant William Doodson, Flying Officer Aubrey Izzard and Flying Officer Ralph Jones; all 39 Squadron.

The Beaufighter remained airborne but late last night Malta’s coastal defences were warned to keep a look out for the damaged aircraft which might force-land into the sea.  The Beaufighter made it back to base but crashed while attempting to land, causing slight injuries to the crew.

Later in the night six Wellingtons of 69 Squadron found the convoy again, this time 33 miles south west of Antipaxos.  The destroyers attempted to lay a smoke screen, but this was blown away by the wind.  The Wellingtons dropped twenty 500lb bombs dropped, some of which fell within 15 yards of the port side of the tanker.  According to reconnaissance photographs taken at first light the tanker has been forced to take refuge in Patras Harbour.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 24 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

AM  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are despatched on air sea rescue to 35 miles north of Grand Harbour but find nothing.

0958-1143 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept patrol (two return early): no sightings.  Four more patrol 30 miles north of the Island: no sightings.

1055-1135 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept two enemy aircraft but develop radio trouble and return to base: nothing sighted.

1350-1409 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and climb to 20000 feet over Grand Harbour before flying at 14000 feet to within ten miles of the Sicilian coast: nothing seen.

1605-1710 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

0005-0030 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy bombers, none of which cross the coast.  Bombs are dropped in the sea off Delimara.  One is engaged by 4th Bn Heavy Ack Ack Regt.  The enemy raider shoots down the searchlight beams with his machine gun.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Ian Preston, Royal Canadian Air Force, 126 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 23 SEPTEMBER 1942

AIR HQ  1845-2205 hrs  Two Beaufighters are despatched on intruder patrol: one shoots up E boats and submarines moored at Trapani.  The other shoots up a seaplane station.

Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; two Beaufighters to Abu Sueir.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire believed damaged by enemy fighters: pilot missing.

HAL FAR  1740-1850 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron carried out a sweep of south east Sicily: enemy aircraft reported but not seen.  2300-0325 hrs  One Swordfish RNAS carried out two anti E boat offensive patrols: nothing seen.

TA QALI  Aerodrome was unserviceable while new drainage system was being installed across the centre of the landing ground.  229 Squadron detachment operated from Luqa.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A Company fired on F Range Pembroke: results very good.

24 September 1942: Malta Bombers Praised for Strike Against Rommel

MESSAGE FROM AIR OFFICE COMMANDING READS

Beaufighter as flown by 227 Squadron

“Well done again 227 Squadron.  Your successful bombing of a merchant vessel on September 17th has deprived Rommel of yet another ship carrying important supplies.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 25 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0800-0835 hrs  Air raid alert for seven ME 109s approaching the Island.  Nine Spitfires 249 Squadron (one spare returned early) are scrambled to intercept.  Blue Section sights four ME 109s but lose them in the sun.  Red Section report no sightings.  Only three enemy raiders cross the coast at 27000 feet.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds: no claims.

1025-1055 hrs  Air raid alert as nine ME 109s approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept with no sightings.  Six enemy raiders cross the coast at 23-270000 feet.  Malta’s fighters are airborne and engage.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.

1705-1720 hrs  Air raid alert for six enemy fighters which cross the coast and carry out a fighter sweep from Gozo to Kalafrana.  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept: nothing sighted.

1900 hrs  One Spitfire returning from Luqa is damaged on landing: pilot P/O Williams is uninjured.

Military casualties  Major Douglas Armstrong, 57 Field Hygiene Section, Royal Army Medical Corps.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 24 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Proteus sailed for Gibraltar, being swept out by Hebe.

AIR HQ  Two Beauforts of 39 Squadron made their first night torpedo attack on a convoy of three destroyers, one small unidentified naval vessel and a 5/6000 ton merchant vessel, which was coast crawling northwards, ten miles north of Point Stile.  Two torpedoes were dropped but although they were seen to run well the results could not be observed, as the aircraft had to fly into the moon on leaving the target.  One Hurricane and two Beaufighters carried out intruder patrols over Sicily.  Arrivals  Three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  0625-0755 hrs  Ten Spitfires made a reconnaissance sweep over south east Sicily: no enemy activity.

TA QALI  1735-1900 hrs  Nine Spitfires 229 Squadron and nine of 249 Squadron (one of each Squadron returned early) on Rodeo raids.  P/O Beurling 249 Squadron sighted one unidentified enemy aircraft: no combat.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A Company fired machine-guns on F range Pembroke.  C Coy marched back from Mellieha, arrived at billets about 1330 hrs.  B & D Coys held a night exercise.

25 September 1942: Luftwaffe Fighters Flee in Face of Spitfires

US AIR FORCE LIBERATORS ATTACK BENGHAZI – MALTA RECONNAISSANCE PILOTS REPORT SUCCESS

Port of Benghazi before attacks

Photographs taken of Benghazi by Malta reconnaissance pilots have revealed the success of a recent raid by US air force Liberators.  A 7000 ton merchant vessel which had been unloading in the port has clearly been blown to pieces, together with most of the improvised jetty at which she was moored.  The destruction of the jetty has reduced by half the wharfage available to the enemy for unloading large ships at Benghazi.  Another 7000 ton ship was also reported to be damaged.

BEAT THE RETREAT

At dusk this evening, Castile Square echoed to the moving tradition of Beat the Retreat, by the band and drums of 2nd Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment.  The ceremony at 1800 hrs was performed before the General Officer Commanding, Malta and other dignitaries, plus many onlookers who gathered to enjoy the moment.  A brief air raid alert at 1750 hrs threatened to disrupt proceedings but the yellow flag only was raised over the Castile and it was decided to continue with the parade.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 26 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine: visibility good – slight early morning haze.

1115-1145 hrs  Air raid alert for twelve ME 109s approaching the Island. Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and encounter the raiders 35 miles north east of Grand Harbour.  They destroy two ME 109s and damage one.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat and crash-lands: the pilot is uninjured.

1750-1815 hrs  Air raid alert.  17 ME 109s approach to within 10 miles of Gozo.  Malta fighters see the enemy but are unable to engage as the raiders flee northwards to avoid conflict.

Night  No alerts.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                                         Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 25 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P 37 arrived from Gibraltar to join 10th S/M Flotilla and was swept into harbour by Hebe.  P 34 sailed for the United Kingdom, and P 42 and Una on patrol, all being swept out by Hebe.  Weather unsuitable for air operations.

AIR HQ  Three Beaufighters despatched to attack a minesweeper in the area Kuriat to Sfax.  Target not located.  One Cant 506 B destroyed.  Arrivals  One DC3 from LG 224; two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Five Hudsons to Gibraltar; one DC 3 to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crash landed due to enemy action: pilot uninjured.

HAL FAR  185 Squadron released.

TA QALI  0645-0745 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol sight barges loaded with sacks but do not attack.  1530-1630 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron on reconnaissance cross the Sicilian coast: no sightings.

26 September 1942: Malta Attacks Enemy Tanker, Merchantmen, Destroyers and Subs

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING 26 SEPTEMBER 1942

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

1.  Enemy air: Six alerts daylight for total 83 aircraft – high fighter sweeps: two ME 109s destroyed, one ME 109 damaged.  Seven aircraft approached Bight, four crossed coast, bombs Qrendi and Delimara areas.

2.  Own air:  Day (A) Nine Beauforts, seven Beaufighters attacked tanker escorted by three destroyers.  One, possibly two, hits on tanker.  One Beaufort missing, one Beaufighter damaged.  (B)  Three Beaufighters despatched to attack minesweeper: target not located.  One Cant 506B destroyed.  (C)  Over 100 Spitfire sorties offensive reconnaissance Sicily.  One ME 109 destroyed, one probably destroyed, without loss.

Night  (A)  Six Wellingtons attacked tanker: stick of bombs within 15 yards.  (B)  Three Beauforts attacked 5/6000 ton merchant vessel escorted by three destroyers: results not seen.  (C)  Total five Beaufighters, one Hurricane, on intruder patrols Sicily: E boats and submarines Trapani and small ship off Licata machine-gunned.

3.  General: Approximately 450 soldiers daily detailed to assist RAF.

4.  Military casualties and damage: one officer wounded last April now died; one other rank slight casualty.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 27 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Weather fine; visibility good.

0910-1030 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept a report of approaching enemy aircraft.  The raid does not materialise and no raiders are seen.

1040-1130 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1735-1835 hrs  Ten Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft (two return early with radio trouble).  The raiders retreat before they are seen.

2005-2035 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy bombers approaching the Island; only one crosses the coast and is illuminated by searchlights for 3 ¾ minutes.  All bombs are dropped in the sea.

Military casualties  Gunner Joseph Pulis, 11th AA, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 26 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY Hebe swept Utmost in from patrol and then proceeded to Dockyard for retubing of boilers. P 211 sailed, being swept out by Hythe.  A report of a fire in the Dockyard area turns out to be a crashed bomber (identified as friendly).

AIR HQ  Spitfires carried out offensive recces over Sicily.  One ME 109 destroyed, one probably destroyed.  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Castel Vetrano: no sightings.  Arrivals  One Spitifre from LG 28.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed on landing: pilot uninjured.  One Beaufighter engine failure: crew injured.

TA QALI  1345-1435 hrs  Three Spitfires 229 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol cross the Sicilian coast over Comiso: no sightings.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 24.  Dealt with: 6 High Explosives (2 x 500kg; 4 x 250kg;); 1 anti-personnel container; 18 anti-personnel bombs; 9 oil incendiaries.

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

 

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6-12 September 1942: Malta Prays as Children Cry for Bread

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DON’T MISS NEXT WEEK – 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF GEORGE CROSS PRESENTATION TO MALTA ON 13 SEPTEMBER 1942

 

“We were very close to starvation…I remember one particularly moving scene when a five year old boy with tears streaming down his face kept asking his mother for a slice of bread and the mother, weeping, saying, I haven’t got any, my son’… none of us there had any food to give him.”  Carmen Sapiano (1)

6 September 1942: Malta Unites to Pray for Deliverance

Barracca Chapel, Valletta

The population of Malta, military and civilian alike, attended churches across the Island today to mark a National Day of Prayer.  At 10 o’clock this morning the Army’s General Officer Commanding joined troops at the Barracca Church for a special service, followed by a parade outside the church and march back to barracks.  This evening the GOC inspected the Home Guard at Qormi, Birkirkara, Sliema and St Julian’s.

ATTACK ON AXIS CONVOY COSTS THIRTEEN AIRMEN

This morning two 7000 ton merchant vessels from Taranto were seen to join up with 4800 ton SS Ankara and another 7-8000 tons merchantman from Brindisi.  The convoy then proceeded south eastwards towards the Greek coast, escorted by eleven destroyers and patrolled by six Macchi fighters and six JU 88s.

Receiving details of the convoy, Air HQ Malta ordered nine Beauforts of 39 Squadron into the air, with eleven Beaufighters of 89 and 227 Squadrons.  At 1330 hrs this afternoon, the attacking force caught up with the convoy 30 miles south of Cape Santa Maria di Leuca and attacked.  Five of the Beaufighters drew the fire of the enemy air escort, destroying one JU 88, probably destroying a Macchi 200 and damaging one JU 88, one Macchi 200 and a flying boat.

Meanwhile the remaining six Beaufighters swooped in to divert defensive flak from the convoy, raking the destroyers and merchant ships with machine-gun and cannon fire, and dropping twelve 250 lb bombs, scoring several near-misses.  Cleared to reach their target, the Beauforts released eight torpedoes, scoring at least one hit and another possible on a merchant vessel, which began to belch smoke.  The Beauforts also destroyed one Macchi 200 and damaged two others as well as one JU 88.

Six Beauforts and two Beaufighters were damaged by enemy fighters or anti-aircraft flak during the raid.  One Beauforts and three Beaufighters failed to return from the raid: thirteen Air Force personnel have been reported missing, presumed killed.  The crew of the Beaufort piloted by Flight Sergeant Watlington had a lucky escape when their aircraft was hit and damaged by enemy fighters.  Wireless Operator, Sergeant Hugh McIllaney and Air Gunner, Sergeant Leslie Tester, were both wounded by shrapnel.  The Navigator Sergeant Charles Grant, rushed help, administering first aid to stop the bleeding.  Sgt Grant then took over the Vickers gun to ward off further enemy attackers.  Despite damage to The Beaufort’s hydraulics, flaps, tail assembly and turret, Flt Sgt Watlington managed to fly it back to Luqa and make a safe landing.

Later reconnaissance missions report that only three merchant ships and ten destroyers remained in the convoy: one merchantman was reported beached near Corfu.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 7 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility good.

1405-1414 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft come to within 20 miles of the coast and then recede.

1720-1830 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to cover a returning fighter sweep: no sightings.

1910-1935 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron search for missing aircraft.

Maqluba Church

2038 hrs  HQ Coy, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment report a ‘golden rain’ rocket over west Zurrieq, moving towards Maqluba Church.  C Company patrol but report seeing nothing.  Rocket believed to have been used by villagers.

Military casualties  Sergeant Arthur Calvert, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Flight Sergeant James Cunningham, RAF VR, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner; Sergeant Edward Cox, RAF VR; Sergeant Kevin Duncan, RAF VR; Lieutenant R Clifford Evans, South African Air Force, pilot; Flight Sergeant Roy Gibbons, RAF VR; Flight Lieutenant Donald Sharman, RAF, pilot; Sergeant Michael Wadham, RAF VR; Pilot Officer Robert Watson, RAF VR, all 39 [Beaufort] Squadron.

Sergeant Albert Cusworth, RAF VR, Navigator; Lieutenant Frederick Noome, South African Air Force, pilot; Flying Officer Dennis Partridge, Royal Australian Air Force, pilot; Sergeant Anthony Vivian, RAF VR, navigator; all 227 [Beaufighter] Squadron.

Gunner Carmel Buttigieg, 3 LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 6 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy swept P44 to sea and then anchored at Marsaxlokk.  An enemy merchant vessel was attacked when in convoy off Cape Ducato, by Beaufighters and Beauforts, and was hit and probably sunk.

AIR HQ  Night  Four Wellingtons were despatched to attack enemy shipping: no sightings.  Arrivals  One DC3 from LG 224; five Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Hudsons to Gibraltar; one DC3, two Wellingtons to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington ran off the runway during take-off and crashed into a Beaufighter: crew uninjured. One Beaufort crashed on landing with hydraulic and turret trouble: crew uninjured.  Six Beauforts and two Beaufighters were damaged by enemy fighters or flak while on shipping strike: one Beaufighter was seen crashing into the sea, two others and one Beaufort failed to return to base: all four crews are missing.  One Beaufort’s Wireless Operator/Air Gunner was killed but the rest of its crew returned uninjured.  Two Wireless Operators/Air Gunners were injured on board another Beaufort; the rest of the crew were unhurt and all returned to base.  The crews of the remaining two Beauforts escaped injury and returned to base.

LUQA  0730 hrs  Holy Communion in Poor House Cinema.  2030 hrs  Community hymn singing.

TA QALI  0700-0815 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron were despatched on offensive reconnaissance.  S/Ldr Woods attacked one of two 25 ton grey motor-driven two-masted craft, obtaining strikes on the hull and cabin with a four-second burst of cannon and machine-guns.  The other Spitfires did not fire, in some doubt as to the identity of the craft.  1110-1220 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on offensive reconnaissance: no sightings.

7 September 1942: Wellingtons Attack Surviving Axis Ships

RAF armourers prepare 500lb bombs for convoy attacks

The surviving vessels of the Axis convoy attacked by Malta air forces yesterday were today reported continuing on their course south eastwards.  Today three Wellingtons of 69 Squadron were sent to carry out a further attack.  Fifty miles north of Cape Aamer the Wellingtons came upon two merchant vessels with three destroyers as escort.  The bombers released twelve 500lb bombs which they reported landing within 10 yards of the larger merchant ship.  No damage report has yet been received.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 8 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0645-0745 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali search for a missing Beaufort crew: no sightings.

1210-1256 hrs  Four Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled and orbit the Island at 12000 feet: nothing seen.

0103-0118 hrs  Air raid alert: one enemy aircraft drops bombs in the sea five miles north east of Grand Harbour.  A Malta night fighter is airborne and chases the unidentified raider but is unable to intercept.

Military casualties  Flight Lieutenant Wallis Brown, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 7 SEPTEMBER 1942

P46 HMS Unruffled returns to Malta after patrol

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy swept P46 and Utmost in from sea.  While towing targets in St Paul’s Bay area, WD vessel Clive swept two mines with her towing wire.

AIR HQ 1928-2300 hrs  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Sicily.  Arrivals  One Wellington, four Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Beauforts, three Wellingtons to LG 224.

HAL FAR  0748-0850 hrs  Seven Spitfires (one spare) flew over south east Sicily on Rodeo: nothing sighted.

LUQA  Camp cinema: Tarzan Finds a Son.

TA QALI   1130-1240 hrs  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron on offensive reconnaissance (two returned early): no enemy aircraft sighted.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  B Coy fired light machine guns on Pembroke Range.  Other Coys on intensified training.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Brigade ordered special vigilance for mine-watching posts.

Tuesday 8 September 1942: Maltese Go Hungry As Rations Prove Inedible

Thousands who were served at Victory Kitchens today with a new rationed version of Balbuljata (2), using powdered eggs with minced vegetables, threw the food away in protest.  This is the second time a dish has been rejected as unpalatable: a week ago liver stew was found to be too bitter to stomach.

As well as claiming the Balbuljata was inedible, people expressed fury at the small portion on offer: no more than two tablespoonfuls, with another two of peas.  The Government decided that due to shortages the dish must remain on the Victory Kitchen menu but subscribers will be allowed to opt out of the meal by paying for six meals instead of seven weekly.  So far, very few have taken up the offer as they have no alternative way to feed themselves.  (3)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 9 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

RAF Air Sea Rescue Launch

1008-1032 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four ME 109s cross the Island at great height.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  Malta fighters are scrambled to intercept: one Spitfire is shot down into the sea off Bubaqra Battery.  The pilot bales out and is later picked up uninjured by the Rescue Launch.

1050-1125 hrs  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1550-1700 hrs  Ten Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept three unidentified enemy aircraft: no engagement.

1855-1920 hrs  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled on intercept patrol: no sightings.

0001-0010 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy aircraft approach to within 15 miles of the Island.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                                         Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 8 SEPTEMBER 1942

AIR HQ   2240 hrs  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Sicily.  Departures  Three Hudsons to Gibraltar; one Wellington to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire was shot up by enemy fighters: pilot baled out, landed in the sea and was rescued uninjured.

HAL FAR  1127-1251 hrs  Ten Spitfires (two spare, which returned early) flew over Lampedusa: nothing seen.  1824-1932 hrs  Five Spitfires flew over south east Sicily as far as Comiso on Rodeo: no enemy aircraft seen.

LUQA  Camp cinema:  Rhythm on the River

TA QALI  0750-0845 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on offensive reconnaissance (two return early): no enemy aircraft sighted.  1500-1600 hrs  Ten Spitfires 229 Squadron and twelve of 249 Squadron on Rodeo (four of 229 return early).  Four enemy aircraft were sighted but no interception possible.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A Coy commenced firing on Pembroke Range.  B Coy commenced changeover of billets Polverista to Dockyard.  C Coy normal training.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Lighter down in the sea 214 degrees Ta Silch Observation Post, two miles out.

9 September 1942: Black Marketeers Face Jail

32 days prison for stealing a tin of corned beef

…we could no longer get enough bread to satisfy our hunger on the grounds that supplies of flour are just about enough to meet the needs of the registered families.  At that stage my family began to really feel the hunger brought on by the shortages…Protection Officers, with their staff, had the job of organizing the distribution and control of food to the families in their district. Each family was issued with a Ration Card. On it was written the number of men, women and children and the total weight of bread the family is allowed per day. Besides the allowance of bread, on the card was written the quantities of other foodstuff allowed per fortnight… At the back of the card there used be a number of squares printed with a number in each square [to] represent the day of the month.

Black market was rampant in towns and villages. The suppliers were normally the farmers who insisted on gold rather than paper money for payment…In view of the very grievous situation Malta was in at the time, the authorities took an extremely serious view of any stealing of goods which was costing so many lives and ships to bring in to the starving population and the garrison. Just one typical example: caught stealing one tin of corned beef off an unloading operation in the ports was punishable with thirty two days imprisonment.”  J A Zahra, 2011

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 10 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0925-0935 hrs; 1010-1040 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron at a time scrambled on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1330-1342 hrs  Air raid alert.  15 enemy fighters approach but none cross the coast.

1313-1409 hrs  Ten Spitfires are scrambled from Hal Far and patrol over St Paul’s Bay and the Island: nothing seen.

2236-2308 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy aircraft approach to within five miles of Dingli, dropping bombs in the sea.  Malta night fighters are airborne: no engagement.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                              Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 9 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy, Hebe, Rye and 4 motor launches carried out a clearance sweep from position 210 miles to the northward. No mines were swept. The sweepers were reported as a convoy by German fighters.  The two mines cut by Clive‘s towing wire the previous day were sunk by gunfire.

De Havilland Flamingo

AIR HQ   Twelve Spitfire sorties on offensive reconnaissance over Sicily.  One Macchi 202 and one ME 109 destroyed for the loss of one Spitfire.  2250 hrs  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Sicily.  Arrivals  One Wellington, one Flamingo, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire failed to return from a fighter sweep over enemy territory; believed force-landed: pilot missing.

HAL FAR  0930-1045 hrs  Seven Spitfires flew over Sicily on Rodeo and attacked 3-4 enemy aircraft over Biscara.  Captain Kuhlmann shot down a Macchi 202.  Sgt Weaver, DFM crash-landed in Sicily and was taken prisoner.  1730-1840 hrs  Five Spitfires flew over Sicily on Rodeo: nil report.

LUQA  Camp cinema concert: Fly Gang in a new show.

TA QALI  0650-0745 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on offensive reconnaissance: no enemy sighted.  1400-1500 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron on offensive reconnaissance (one spare returned early).  A few bursts of light flak 45 miles north east of Gela.  No enemy aircraft sighted.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT A Coy fired rifles on Pembroke Range.  B Coy continued move and D Coy moved from St Clements to Polverista.  Remainder on training.

10 September 1942: Victory Kitchens Need Urgent Review, Says Strickland

Colonel R Strickland today moved a motion in the Council of Government to appoint a Select Committee to report on the running of the Victory Kitchens and make recommendations for improvements.  The food distribution system is now struggling under the sheer weight of demand: since 1st August, the number of subscribers has trebled to 60,000.  Many have felt forced to join since the Communal Feeding Department is now commandeering all available produce, leaving those outside the scheme unable to obtain meat or vegetables.  Introducing his proposal, Col Strickland highlighted the people’s complaints:

“Extreme dissatisfaction prevails regarding the running of the Victory Kitchens, and the lot of the housewife has become well nigh impossible…The personnel employed in the Victory Kitchens is not suitable…[lacking] adequate knowledge of local customs and of Maltese habits and tastes…The Department is buying supplies at prices above the established controlled price…Cooks maintain that too much food is given to them, they do not cook it, by next morning it disappears…The cooking is bad…Another serious thing [is the] unequal portions being meted out…” (2)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 11 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather   Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0735-0815 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled on intercept patrol: no sightings.

0835-0930 hrs  Four  Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne to cover 1435 Squadron returning from a fighter sweep.

1003-1111 hrs  Five Spitfires Hal Far area scrambled on intercept patrol: nothing seen.

2000 hrs  Observers report three shipping plots three miles north east of the island.

2020 hrs  C and D Coys, 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report small craft in DELs, 30 degrees RA3. 

2030 hrs  Dorsetshire Regt report more craft in DELs: guns fire.

0005-0036 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four enemy aircraft approach to within 10-15 miles of Gozo and drop bombs in the sea.  Malta night fighters are airborne: no engagement.

Military casualties  Sergeant Roland Ainsworth, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR);  Sergeant Thomas Kirkham, RAF VR; Sergeant William Law, RAF VR; Flight Sergeant James Pilling, RAF VR; Pilot Officer John Pope, RAF VR; Flight Sergeant Ruskin Rice, Royal Canadian Air Force; Sergeant Joseph Sloan, RAF VR; all 202 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 10 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  2130 hrs  Three MTBs were reported from the plot one mile from the coast between Madliena and St. Paul’s Bay. Nothing was sighted.

AIR HQ  0010-0240 hrs  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Sicily: no enemy aircraft seen.  Arrivals  One Beaufort from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  0636-0756 hrs  Five Spitfires flew over south east Sicily on Rodeo: nothing seen.

LUQA  Luqa beat the Merchant Navy in a cricket match at Marsa:  Luqa 107 for 6 declared; Merchant Navy 104.  Camp cinema:  Lady of the Tropics.

TA QALI  1000-1105 hrs  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron (one spare returned early) on offensive reconnaissance.  Enemy aircraft were reported but none sighted.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A Coy fired rifles on Pembroke Range.  One Officer and one NCO attended bomb recce course under Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal.  B, C and D Coys held weekly night exercise.

11 September 1942: Malta Commanders Gather in Secret

Bomb damage in Palace Square, Valletta

Malta dignitaries, military and civil defence personnel gathered in Valletta today in conditions of the utmost secrecy to rehearse for the formal presentation of the George Cross to the Island which takes place on Sunday next.  With the recent reduction in air attacks and the evident superiority of the RAF in the skies over Malta, the Governor and Commander in Chief has decided it is now safe for the important ceremony to take place.  However, for security reasons it has been decided not to announce details of Sunday’s event beyond Malta’s shores.

The George Cross will be officially handed over by Lord Gort to Sir George Borg, Chief Justice of Malta at 9.15 am in Palace Square, which has been cleared of debris for the occasion.  The Royal Malta Artillery have been chosen to provide the guard of honour and the band of the King’s Own Malta Regiment will play for the ceremony.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 12 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

1024-1038 hrs  Air raid alert.  One enemy fighter approaches the Island at 6000 feet to within eight miles of Grand Harbour, then recedes.

1200-1250 hrs  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron (one spare returned early) on patrol: no enemy aircraft sighted.

2330-0042 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy bombers approach the Island.  One comes within five miles north of St Paul’s Bay and another 15 miles west of Dingli: both drop bombs in the sea.  The third crosses the coast and drops bombs on the northern end of Ta Qali.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Malta night fighters are airborne: no engagement.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 11 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P35 was swept out by Hebe and proceeded on patrol.

AIR HQ  Two Wellingtons were despatched to locate and destroy a submarine in the Benghazi area: no sighting.  Arrivals  One Hudson, two Wellingtons from Gibraltar; one DC3 from Shallufa.  Departures  One Flamingo, one DC3 to LG 224; one Hudson to Gibraltar.

LUQA  Camp cinema: At the Circus.

TA QALI  0725-0820 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol over Sicilian coast: no enemy aircraft sighted.  1125-1300 hrs  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron (one spare returned early) on reconnaissance patrol over Sicilian coast: no enemy aircraft sighted.  1830-1940 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron on shipping patrol: no sightings.

10th Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Dress rehearsal for presentation of George Cross to Malta.

12 September 1942: Malta Air Forces 40 Attacks in 7 Days

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING 12 SEPTEMBER 1942

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

Ta Qali

 

1.  Enemy air activity slight.  22 fighter sorties by day, 18 bomber sorties by night.  One bomber crossed the coast: bombs on Ta Qali.

2.  Beauforts and Beaufighters attacked a convoy of four merchant vessels and eleven destroyers.  One merchant vessel hit, one probably hit.  Two enemy aircraft escorting destroyed, one probable, six damaged.

3.  Military damage and casualties [in Malta] nil.  Training continues.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 13 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0925-1025 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1122-1226 hrs  Five Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled and patrol the Island between Comino and Zonqor at 14000 feet: nothing seen.

1216-1308 hrs  Four Spitfires Hal Far are airborne as cover for returning Spitfires, patrolling ato 14000 feet, 30-40 miles north of Grand Harbour: nothing seen.

2143-2203 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four enemy aircraft approach the Island at 23-26000 feet but drop all bombs in the sea.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Qrendi  Grezzju Dalli, age 52.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 12 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe carried out search of QBB 273.

AIR HQ  Twelve Spitfires carried out an offensive reconnaissance over Sicily.  Four Beaufighters were despatched on shipping strike: no sightings.  Night  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Sicily.  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Wellington to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufighter swung off the runway during take-off: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  1530-1626 hrs  Four Spitfires were despatched on Rodeo to south east Sicily: nil report.

LUQA  Camp cinema concert.

TA QALI  1135-1235 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol over Sicilian coast encountered heavy Ack Ack at 16000 feet, accurate at height being only 250-500 yards behind Spitfires.  No enemy aircraft sighted.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 18.  Dealt with: 10 High Explosives inc 2 delayed action (1 x 1000kg; 1 x 500kg; 4 x 250kg; 3 x 50kg; 1 x 12kg AP); 18 anti-personnel bombs.

(1) The People’s War, Malta 1940/43, Laurence Mizzi, Progress Press, Malta 1998

(2)  Normally made with scrambled eggs, tomatoes and onion

(3)  Adapted from When Malta Stood Alone (1940-1943), Joseph Micallef, Interprint Malta, 1981

 

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

 
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30 August-5 September 1942: Malta Faces Malnutrition

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30 August 1942: Rations Cut Again – Meat Only Twice a Week

From:  Governor Malta                To:  Air Ministry             30 August 1942

Please pass to Secretary of State for the Colonies and Chiefs of Staff MidEast please pass to Minister of State Cairo.

1.  Unloading and dispersal of supplies from convoy is now complete except for aviation and benzene, fortress can hold out until early December.  Aviation spirit position has been reported separately to Chiefs of Staff in HQ Med Sig 0726 of 25/8.  Benzine consumption has been reduced to 15,200 gallons per week but even so stocks will only last until mid-November.  Benzine can be made to last until target date by drawing on 77 octane but this is likely to be required for blending with aviation spirit.  We have 600 tons of 77 octane available, of which 250 tons are held as fortress reserve of MT spirit and 100 tons are needed for consumption by naval and RAF craft.

2.  Target date of early December allows for following adjustments of consumption on civil side:

  • (i)  Bread ration for men between 16 and 60 will be increased by 3½ ounces per day to 14 ounces.
  • (ii)  Fat ration will be at half normal ration level during September but I hope to increase it to normal level at beginning of October.
  • (iii)  Regular issues of edible oil will be made at normal ration rates.
  • (iv)  There will be regular issues of coffee with possibly one period skipped.
  • (v)  Regular weekly issues of kerosene will be made as from 1st October but at summer rather than higher winter rate.
  • (vi)  Domestic electricity supply will be restored on 1st October.
  • (vii)  Brewing will be resumed as soon as possible.
  • (viii)  Present reduced rations of sugar and soap will be maintained, sugar being issued twice every three half-monthly periods and soap once very two periods.

3.  Victory kitchens now have 60,000 persons registered and 170 kitchens are in operation.  Further rapid expansion is possible but supply of vegetables cannot be further increased while potatoes are now almost unobtainable and meat supply is not as great as was expected and is already falling off.  In future it will be possible to provide meat on only two days a week instead of five, and this may later have to be reduced to one if registration increases as expected. 

Victory Kitchen

In this situation I have been carefully considering the future of the Victory kitchens.  Allowing for small increases in rations now being made, calorie value of rationed foods per day for a man between 16 and 60 who is member of average size family is 1300, or 200 calories below figure normally taken as minimum.  Outside rations, very little food is obtainable.  Fresh meat, fish and vegetables are all too scarce to be rationed, even if this were possible from other points of view.  Marketing of meat and vegetables is now under control of Government and no meat except poultry and rabbits and small amount only of vegetables is being sold on open market.  Victory kitchens provide only satisfactory method of distributing evenly what meat and vegetables are available and if we were now to revert to old arrangement under which kitchens provide meals only on surrender of rations allowing majority of meat and vegetable supply to return to open market, effect would be that poorer classes would get very little, while those who are prepared to pay any price would obtain what they wished.

4.  I am satisfied that in our present food situation it is essential to continue existing policy of providing one meal a day through kitchens outside rations so as to raise calorie value of diet to about 1800 calories.  This can only be done by introducing considerable quantities of imported supplies into the menus.  I have decided accordingly that all civil supplies of dried vegetables, dried eggs and cheese shall be allotted to the communal feeding department and that [pasta] shall be issued through kitchens on a substantial scale, estimated to absorb 230 tons of flour per month on an average registration of 150,000 persons.  This allotment of flour has been allowed for in calculating target date.  Menu will then consist of macaroni and cheese on two days, minestra on two days, meat and vegetables on two days and an egg dish on one day.  I anticipate that effect of new policy will be to encourage rapid increase in registration.

5.  In spite of increased issues described above, the civil food situation is still causing me considerable anxiety.  Rates of rations and general scale of diet remain low.  No signs of serious malnutrition have yet appeared but prolonged continuance of present food shortage must have its effect both on health and morale and shortage will be more seriously felt in winter.  Anything which can be done by special means at any time before another convoy is run, to supplement diet by importing concentrated foodstuffs or food of small bulk, will help greatly.  I will telegraph our immediate requirements of these types of food in the course of the next two days in case any special opportunity occurs to send such supplies.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 AUGUST TO DAWN 31 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; little or no cloud: visibility 15-20 miles.  Wind variable becoming southerly; light.

No air raid alerts.

1105-1215 hrs; 1625-1725  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron then ten 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled on patrol: no enemy aircraft are sighted.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 30 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde arrived from Gibraltar and was swept into Marsaxlokk by Hythe.  Una sailed on patrol.

AIR HQ  Day  Nine Beauforts escorted by eleven Beaufighters were despatched to attack an enemy convoy.  Night  One Beaufighter carried out an intruder patrol over Sicily.  Arrivals  Two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Four Beauforts to LG 224.

HAL FAR  Ten Spitfires went out to area 15-30 miles south east of Correnti Island and patrolled at 20000 feet over returning Beauforts.  No enemy aircraft seen.

TA QALI  Final movement of 248 Squadron pilots to United Kingdom.

31 August 1942: Alerts Total 2225 in 25 Months

AIR RAID STATISTICS AUGUST 1942

  • Total number of alerts to date  2225
  • Total number of alerts this month 141
  • Bombing raids  day 39  night  20
  • Raid-free days  3
  • Night raids  37
  • Raid-free nights  12
  • Alerts for own planes  8
  • Total time from air raid alert to raiders passed  2 days, 56 mins
  • Average length of alert 29.1 mins
  • Killed  41 (15 men, 12 women, 14 children)
  • Seriously injured  33 (10 men, 14 women, 9 children)
  • Buildings seriously damaged  58

OPERATION PEDESTAL UPDATE

Ledbury after Operation Pedestal, NWMA Malta

A total of 568 survivors from ships sunk during Operation Pedestal were landed at Malta. 207 of whom sailed in Penn, Bramham, and Ledbury on 18th August. The remainder being evacuated by air as opportunity arises.  The bulk of the cargo was unloaded by 23rd August, about 12,000 tons of furnace fuel, 3600 tons of diesel fuel, and 32,000 tons of general cargo having been received.  The enemy made no attempt to bomb any of the ships after they had arrived in harbour, or, in fact, once they were within comfortable range of shore based fighter protection.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 AUGUST TO DAWN 1 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Weather fine, visibility 20-30 miles.  Wind south-westerly, light; varying north westerly, light to moderate.

Day  No air raid alerts.

0915-1005 hrs; 1515-1645 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron then four of 249 Squadron Ta Qali carry out patrols: no enemy aircraft sighted.

2221-2246 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy bombers approached from the north but receded before crossing the coast.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Arthur Jones, Royal Navy.

Civilian casualties  Birzebbugia  Carmela Ellul, age 30.  Mqabba  Emanuel Zammit, age 7; Joseph Zammit, age 6.  Paola  Emanuel Paris.  Qormi  Spiro Saliba, age 40.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 31 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  ML carried out sweep of the area extending seaward of entrances to Grand Harbour and Marsamxett to the 40 fathom line, and swept two moored mines and one conical float.

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar; one Bisley to LG 224.

INFANTRY  R Company, Lancashire Fusiliers, took over area from E Company, 2nd Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment, and vice versa.

1 September 1942: Anti-Personnel Bomb Kills Two Children

MALTA FIGHTERS’ SCORE NEARS 1000

Malta Radar stations detect raiders (NWMA Malta)

Reports released today show that 936 Axis aircraft have been destroyed over Malta or by Malta-based aircraft since Italy entered the war in June 1940.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 2 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine, visibility 10-15 miles.

1300 hrs  One anti-personnel bomb explodes on Ta Qali aerodrome, seriously injuring three Maltese children: two of them die in hospital.

1858-1907 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy fighters.  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept but the raiders turn back five miles from the Island.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Rabat  Francis Sammut, age 16; Carmel Tanti, age 14.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 1 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P35 arrived and was swept into harbour, having sunk a southbound 5,000 ton merchant vessel.

AIR HQ  2150 hrs  Five Wellingtons 69 Squadron were despatched to attack a 4000 ton tanker with an escort of two destroyers near Corfu.  They dropped four 250lb and twenty 500lb bombs with several near-misses: the convoy continued on course.  One Wellington missing.  0130 hrs  One Beaufighter carried out an intruder patrol over Sicily.  No enemy sighted.

Arrivals  Four Beauforts, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire tyre burst on take-off, crash-landed: pilot uninjured.  One Beaufighter undercarriage collapsed on landing: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  0930-1035 hrs  Four Spitfires Hal Far carried out a high level sweep over Correnti Island, Noto, Ragusa and Pozzala in Sicily.  No enemy aircraft or shipping sighted.  1315-1325 hrs  The Spitfire of Pilot Officer Cheek crash-landed on an air test: his tyre burst on take-off and he had to land ‘wheels up’.

LUQA  Luqa beat the Gun Operations Room in a cricket match: results Luqa 108 (Neale 46), GOA 97.  Camp Cinema: Captain Fury.

TA QALI  0705-0805 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron carried out a sweep over Sicily: no enemy aircraft sighted.  1200-1315 hrs  Nine Spitfires 229 Squadron and nine 249 Squadron Ta Qali on a sweep over Sicily saw ships believed to be tankers outside Licata Harbour.  The Spitfires are met with heavy, accurate anti-aircraft fire over Licata at 11000 feet but see no enemy aircraft.

Nos 242, 314, 502 and 841 AME Stations, Observer Corps Detachments at Dingli, Torri L’Ahmar and Ghargur, Officers’ and Airmen’s rest camp at St Paul’s Bay taken over by this Station for administration and rations.

INFANTRY  0545 hrs  Exercise to test the alertness of sentries and communications within 4 Brigade.  Also rapid destruction of parachutists in the Brigade area.  Exercise began with firing of three Verey lights around Marsaxlokk Bay.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  A Company are performing coast patrol duties at Il Kaus; B Company are manning Tal Virtu observation post.

2 September 1942: Malta Attacks Force Rommel’s Retreat

OFFENSIVE OPS CUT AXIS FUEL AND SUPPLIES

“We have some very grave shortages.”  Letter from Rommel to his wife, 30 August 1942

Malta-based attacks on southbound convoys in the Mediterranean have forced Field Marshal Rommel to give up his attempt to retake El Alamein.  The Island’s air and naval forces have starved the Axis of more than half of the supplies they need to continue the battle in North Africa.  Rommel originally intended to begin a major offensive against British forces on 26 August but had to postpone due to a shortage of fuel, thanks to the sinking of two tankers in the Mediterranean.

Field Marshal Rommel’s plan stopped

With a promise that another convoy would set out immediately from Italy, at 2330 hrs on Sunday Rommel launched an attack at Alam el Halfa but came up against a massive minefield and a well-equipped British force under Lt Gen Montgomery.  But nine Beauforts and eleven Beaufighters had already set off from Malta to attack the supply convoy, which had been spotted by 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance pilots.  At the same time destroyers, bombers and naval aircraft launched heavy attacks on Axis stores and workshops close to the battlefield.

Yesterday Malta-based submarine P 35 sank a southbound 5000 ton merchant vessel and the Island’s bombers stand ready to act immediately to any further attempts to re-supply the enemy.  Attacks continued today with Wellington bombers targeting a tanker and Navy Air Service Albacores striking a merchant vessel and escort with torpedoes.

After three days of relentless allied bombing and artillery fire and faced with a precarious supply situation Rommel has been forced to call off the attack and withdraw his forces.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 3 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair but cloudy.

0915-1020 hrs; 1015-1055 hrs  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali at a time on intercept patrol and sweep: no sightings.

1015-1045 hrs  Five Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on patrol: nothing sighted.

1303 hrs  Three enemy aircraft are reported approaching Malta.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol sight one Macchi 202.  F/Lt Hetherington, W/Cdr Donaldson and P/O Farmer each fire a burst in turn, all obtaining strikes.  The tail of the Macchi is shot off and the aircraft goes down streaming glycol.  The remaining aircraft recede without coming within 25 miles of the Island.

1930-1950 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties   Corporal Arthur Simpson, Royal Engineers, Malta Territorial Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 2 SEPTEMBER 1942

P34 HMS Ultimatum

ROYAL NAVY  P34 swept out but returned to Marsaxlokk with a leaky DSEA hatch.

AIR HQ  1305 hrs  An offensive reconnaissance by four Spitfires over Sicily.  One Macchi 200 is shot down.  Night  Two Wellingtons were despatched to attack the tanker targeted last night, now 10 miles south west of Antipaxos.  The drop six 500lb bombs on the tanker, scoring one hit and causing a large explosion, followed by clouds of white smoke.

Arrivals  One DC3 from Shallufa two Beauforts one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One DC3 to LG 224.    Aircraft casualties  One Hudson tyre believed burst during take-off, crashed and burned out: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  1720-1830 hrs  Five Spitfires carried out a sweep over Sicily and encounter enemy aircraft.  2129-0235 hrs  One Swordfish with flares and two Albacores NAS located and attacked a 5000 ton merchant vessel, escorted by two destroyers and a small flak ship, 15 miles north east of Cape Spartivento heading easterly.  They located the target just off the toe of Sicily and score hits with two torpedoes, one aft of the funnel and one aft of the bridge, followed by a violent explosion.  They leave the vessel down by the stern and belching clouds of black and white smoke.  A later photo-reconnaissance report showed the merchant vessel aground close to where it had been attacked.

3 September 1942: Reconnaissance Pilots Praised for Axis Convoy Hits

“The Air Officer Commanding sends personal congratulations to 69 Squadron (Reconaissance) for successful attacks on two successive nights, when Wellingtons scored direct hits on an important tanker heading for North Africa and also near-misses on destroyers.  The loss or even the disabling of the enemy tanker should greatly assist the British fighting Rommel.”

69 Squadron crew disembark Baltimore Luqa 1942 (c) IWM GM 1042

 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 4 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair but cloudy.

0935-1030 hrs  Five Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on patrol: nothing sighted.

1405-1510 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

1701-1720 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  Two enemy fighters fly over Comino Channel at 20,000 feet.  Spitfires chase them back to within 10 miles of the Sicilian coast but are unable to intercept.

1845-1930 hrs  Six Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 3 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P34 sailed for trials and proceeded on patrol. Clyde and P43 were also swept out to sea.

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Beauforts to LG 224.

LUQA  Camp cinema: Tarzan Finds a Son.

TA QALI  1540-1635 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron on offensive reconnaissance circled Linosa and spotted a new building – ‘apparently’ a church.  No enemy aircraft sighted.

4 September 1942: Navy Albacores Disable Axis Supply Ship

Fairey Albacore

Two Albacores Royal Naval Air Squadrons were despatched today to finish off the merchant vessel beached after their previous attack on Wednesday night.  One Albacore scored a torpedo hit on the ship’s port quarter, while the other scored a direct hit with a 250lb bomb on the destroyer alongside, and straddled the merchant vessel with two other bombs.   Photo-reconnaissance later showed that the merchant vessel had a large gap in her starboard side.

Later tonight two Wellington bombers took advantage of intense darkness to attack a small merchant vessel 30 miles east of Point Alice.  They dropped a total of eight 500lb bombs on the ship but were unable to observe results, which will await confirmation by photo-reconnaissance.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 5 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Local thunder; rain with bright periods.  Visibility 10-15 miles.

0848-0908 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy fighters approach at low altitude, apparently intending a low-level machine gun attack, but turn back while still eight miles off the coast.  Malta’s fighters are airborne: no engagement.

1459-1544 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eighteen enemy fighters approach the Island; four are identified as ME 109s.  Some of the raiders skirt the Zonqor coast, while others patrol five miles north of Gozo.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagement.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.

1700-1750 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

2230 hrs  Observers of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a light out to sea, 80 degrees RA 4.

2313-2321 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft approach the Island but turn back when 20 miles north west of Gozo, dropping bombs in the sea.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer William Storer, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Private Ronald Rooke, 2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 4 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Night  Two Albacores RNAS were despatched to attack a merchant vessel beached eight miles north of Bianca.

AIR HQ  1720 hrs  Six Beauforts and six Beaufighters were despatched to attack a convoy off Cape Spartivento but failed to locate the target.  Night  Two Wellingtons attacked a small merchant vessel 30 miles east of Point Alice, dropping eight 500lb bombs on the ship.  No results are seen due to the intense darkness.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire had engine trouble, force-landed: pilot uninjured.

HAL FAR  1000-1115 hrs  Four Spitfires carried out a Rodeo raid over Sicily but encounter no enemy aircraft.  PM  Seven Spitfires were despatched on a sweep over Sicily.  The leader had a faulty radio and broke formation: owing to a misunderstanding the rest followed suit and as a result the Spitfires returned to base.

LUQA  Luqa beat the RASC at cricket by nine wickets: RASC 36, Luqa 38 for one wicket.  Camp cinema: Second Chorus.

TA QALI  0650-0750 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on Rodeo: no enemy aircraft sighted.  1320-1430 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on offensive reconnaissance sighted two unidentified aircraft but did not intercept due to a radio fault and subsequent misunderstanding.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Major General Scobie, GOC troops Malta, visited the Battalion.  This is the second time the Bn has been under his command – Tobruk October 1941 was the first.

5 September 1942: Dog Fight Over Grand Harbour

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING 5 SEPT 1942

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

1.  Enemy activity confined 48 fighter sorties by day and 6 bomber sorties by night.  One JU 88 crossed coast; good [searchlight] illumination.  Bombs on land.  One Macchi 202 destroyed, two ME 109s probably destroyed.  Own losses nil.  Recently there has been a large decrease in the numbers of bombers and fighters in Sicily, particularly German.

2.  Own air offensive continues.  150 Spitfire sorties over Sicily also 4 Beaufighters by night.  Malta based air attacks on convoys to Libya continue resulting in 1 tanker blown up, 1 tanker stationary, 2 merchant vessels hit by torpedoes, one destroyer hit by bombs; near-misses one merchant vessel, one destroyer.

3.  Military damage and casualties nil.  Intensified training being carried out.  Small parties employed on aerodromes.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 6 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair; visibility 10-15 miles.

0735-0810 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

0910-0958 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron and five from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  One Spitfire of 249 returns early, its hood blown off.

Grand Harbour

12 ME 109s and Macchi 202s cross the coast and circle over Grand Harbour area.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  The Spitfires intercept some of the enemy over Grand Harbour and others 20 miles off Zonqor.  249 Squadron engage six ME 109s. P/O Williams scores strikes on one.  P/O Giddings attacks a second; he sees no strikes but a panel flies off the port wing of the enemy aircraft.  Hal Far pilot F/Lt Charney destroys one Macchi 202.

1440-1510 hrs  Air raid alert. Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy fighters.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  The Spitfires see three ME 109s and four other fighters six miles east of Zonqor and chase them back towards Sicily: no engagement.

1725-1825 hrs  Ten Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept a reported formation of enemy aircraft: raid does not materialise.

2250-2317 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy bombers approach the Island; one recedes 40 miles from the coast.  The other, a JU 88, crosses the coast and drops bombs in the area of Birkirkara.  Malta night fighters are airborne: no interceptions.  Searchlights effect one illumination and Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2230 hrs  Observers of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report several white verey lights off the Delimara area.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Tarxien  Joseph Bonnici, age 56.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 5 SEPTEMBER 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufort, three Wellingtons, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; two Beauforts to LG 224.

HAL FAR  0640-0800 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron carried out a sweep over Sicily: no enemy aircraft encountered.

LUQA  Camp cinema: camp talent contest.

TA QALI  1145-1315 hrs  Thirteen Spitfires 249 Squadron (two returned early) and nine of 229 Squadron (one returned early) were despatched on a Rodeo raid.  Two enemy fighters are seen but not intercepted.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 26.  Dealt with: 7 High Explosives (2 x 500kg; 4 x 250kg; 1 x 50kg); 116 anti-personnel bombs, 18 oil incendiaries.

 

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

 
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2-8 August 1942: Without a Convoy Malta Will Fall

MALTA WAR DIARY: OPERATION PEDESTAL – SANTA MARIJA – EVENTS ON MALTAGC70 UPDATED DAILY.  STARTS 9 AUGUST                                                                                                                

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SUPPLY SITUATION NOW CRITICAL

“I was a waitress at Xara Villa, where the pilots of Ta Qali lived.  I was 15.  We used to lick the plates we collected after the meal, before we sent them down to wash.  When they realised, the pilots even left us a little on the plate.”  Maria Parsons (nee Spiteri), GeorgeCross Island Association

Malta command is facing a crisis.  Unless another convoy reaches the Island by Friday of this week, supplies of food and fuel will run out within days.  The minimal stores delivered over recent weeks by submarine and by fast minelayers Manxman and Welshman have been barely enough to meet a few days’ needs.  Without immediate help, Malta could fall into enemy hands.

2 August 1942: Cluster Bomb Kills 13 Year Old

Butterfly bomb

A 13 year old boy was killed yesterday in Birkirkara by a German anti-personnel bomb. The village is now the most densely populated in Malta thanks to the many refugees from Grand Harbour who have taken shelter there.  In an air raid centred on Ta Qali late on Sunday evening, Birkirkara was showered with butterfly bombs – cluster bombs which are released from canisters holding up to 100 each.

The Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Sections were drafted in to clear the dozens of unexploded small bombs reported across the area.  At least one remained undetected.  Yesterday afternoon a group of boys were playing hide and seek behind rubble walls surrounding the fields outside the village.  13 year old Joe Galea jumped over a wall and landed on one of the bombs which exploded, killing him instantly.  Adapted from UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010/2012

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 AUGUST TO DAWN 3 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

Aerodrome working parties and transport:  500 men each at Ta Qali and Hal Far, 1000 at Luqa.

0915-0954 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six JU 88s with an escort of 20 plus fighters including ME 109s drop 2800 kg of bombs on the area of Safi strip.

1310 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft; two return early.  The remainder intercept the enemy: red section is attacked by two MEs with no outcome.  Blue section sight six Messerschmitts, dive past but lose them on tearning.  F/Lt Watts fires on one ME but sees no strike.

1350 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are also scrambled to intercept enemy fighters. Sgt Weaver probably destroys one ME 109. P/O Guthrie crashes in a field on the outskirts of Zebbieh and is killed.  Sgt McLeod is reported missing: Spitfires search for him until dusk without success.

1445 hrs  All clear.

1657-1715 hrs  Air raid alert for an enemy fighter sweep which does not cross the coast.

2250-2325 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which does not cross the coast.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer James Guthrie Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Sergeant McLeod, Royal New Zealand Air Force.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 2 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P43 and Una arrived and were swept into Marsamxett Harbour by Rye.

AIR HQ Arrivals  Two Hudsons, one Liberator, two Beauforts from Gibraltar; one DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  One Hudson, one Catalina to Gibraltar; two DC3 to Bilbeis; one Hudson to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down by enemy aircraft: pilot killed.  One Spitfire in formation jumped by enemy aircraft: pilot presumed shot down; missing.

3 August 1942: Radio Interference Hampers RAF Fighter Ops 

RADIO CONTACT CUT DURING DOG FIGHT

RAF Spitfire pilots are reporting interference with their radio signals over Malta.  Signals were interrupted at a crucial moment during an air battle with Messerschmitt fighters this morning.  Early reports suggest the problem only occurs over land: interference clears once aircraft fly out to sea.  The radio signal interruptions could threaten the effectiveness of defensive fighter operations over the Island.

TROOPS GO HUNGRY

…there was less and less food. Our ration went down to 1,000 to 1,400 calories a day. We had one tin of bully beef for eight men, and one slice of bread each (when I went to Malta I weighed 10.9 stone, when I came back it was 8.6 stone) . Our uniforms and boots were wearing out. We put bits of cardboard in the boots to protect our feet. All supplies had to come in by sea, and there were enemy submarines that could be seen in the clear water. From the Garrison Fort we heard that it was feared we could no longer hold the island.  Jimmie Ferguson, Royal Irish Fusiliers (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 AUGUST TO DAWN 4 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine.

0615-0700 hrs  Air raid alert.  Enemy aircraft do not cross the coast.

0810-0900 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: nothing to report.

0933-0955 hrs  Four Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled: nothing sighted.

1105-1200 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne to act as escort to minesweepers: nothing to report.

1115-1135 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven Spitfires Hal Far and eight of 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: two of 229 return early.  The remainder sight six Messerschmitts overhead and try to gain height but are bounced by the MEs and have to break away without firing a shot.  All pilots report marked VHF radio interference.

1233-1305 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: two return early.  The others sight nothing.

1455-1515 hrs  Air raid alert.  Enemy aircraft do not cross the coast.

1610-1625 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching enemy fighters.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron scrambled to intercept sight four ME 109s which turn and make for home very fast: no contact.

1755-1820 hrs  Air raid alert.  Enemy fighters are reported approaching the Island.  Seven Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept: nothing sighted.

1855-1945 hrs  Three Spitfires 229 Squadron carry out a patrol but sight nothing.  The weather is hazy, visibility two miles.

2200-2235 hrs; 2230-2345 hrs; 2359-0025 hrs  Air raid alerts, each for single enemy aircraft, none cross the coast.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 3 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy, Rye, Hythe, and Swona carried out sweep of five cable strip inshore of QBB 273. 4 moored mines were swept.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Beaufighters, five Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Liberator to LG 224 or Fayid.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into sea: pilot rescued, injured.  One Wellington overshot on landing: pilot and crew uninjured.  Transit aircraft missing  One Wellington en route from Gibraltar to Malta.

LUQA  The Secretary of State visits Luqa aerodrome.

TA QALI  Wing Commander Douglas Hamilton ceased to be attached from Headquarters, RAF Mediterranean.  Wing Comannder Pike, DFC, arrived on move of 249 Squadron to Ta Qali.  All pilots of 603 Squadron posted to 229 Squadron on formation at Ta Qali.

4 August 1942: Spitfire Pilot Wins Close Dog-fight

Spitfires over Malta (2)

Malta Spitfire pilot Lt Swales was flying one of four Spitfires of 229 Squadron this morning when they encountered two Italian Macchi fighters.  Lt Swales attacked, firing a short burst, followed by S/Ldr Douglas who fired all his ammunition but could not get closer than 400 yards.  No strikes were seen but Lt Swales had not finished.  He turned on the other Macchi and fired a 5 second burst at 200 yards into the starboard wing and fuselage of the enemy aircraft, which started to smoke.  The Italian swooped into a steep dive and Lt Swales followed him down, firing until all his ammunition was spent.  The Macchi was last seen at water level, smoking badly.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 AUGUST TO DAWN 5 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

Luqa working parties are reduced by the withdrawal of 450 men of 1 Brigade.  Total still employed on all aerodromes approximately 1500 all ranks.

0725-0900 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali search for a missing Wellington.  They see a large oil patch and circle at deck level but find no wreckage.  Enemy fighters are reported but not seen.

0830-0845 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  They sight two Macchi 202 fighters which are attacked by S/Ldr Douglas and Lt Swales.  One Macchi is probably destroyed by Lt Swales.  A Dornier flying boat escorted by fighters later picks up the pilot.

0915-0945 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept: nothing to report.

1445-1530 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft and climb to attack three ME 109s but are unable to catch them.  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron are also scrambled and sight three enemy aircraft but are ordered on another course and see no others.  All Spitfires report marked radio interference over the Island which is not as bad at sea.

1625-1710 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft but sight nothing.

1735-1750 hrs  Air raid alert for 20 enemy aircraft carrying out a fighter sweep.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft but are unable to make contact.  Spitfires from Hal Far are also airborne: one Re 2001 is probably destroyed.

2220-2340 hrs  Air raid alerts for two enemy aircraft which approach separately and drop bombs on Mellieha Ridge and on Gozo.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                                     Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 4 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  WD Vessel Snipe carried out night run with Coast Artillery Searchlights.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Hudsons, two Wellingtons, three Beaufighters from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down in combat: pilot baled out, uninjured.

HAL FAR  185 Squadron is stood down.

1ST BN CHESHIRE REGIMENT Night firing exercises on Pembroke ranges.

5 August 1942:  Malta’s Children ‘Ghostly Pale’

Food shortages had become desperate. It had reached the point where bread, an important staple for most people, had become rationed with hardly enough for the average family and its quality greatly reduced by the addition of potatoes and other ingredients. I still remember my mother, with three growing hungry youngsters, bartering a gold ring on the Black Market in exchange for a badly needed loaf of bread – just to put something into our empty stomachs.  My mother, like most mothers, often kept herself short just to give us a little extra to eat.…

As the siege tightened we begin to notice the lean and haggard faces of the men, women and children around us, the young and the old.  You begin to notice the start of sunken cheeks and dark shadows under the eyes. You begin to see the thinness of the arms and legs of chidren. You feel general body weakness where the minimum effort saps one’s strength. You see the faces of people of fair complexion beginning to turn a ghostly pale or ashen gray and those of darker complexion into a ghastly greenish hue.

The pangs of hunger had become so acute that chewing the end tip of my leather belt became a common practice, as with most others.  The taste sometimes still lingers. For a while water consumption, when not cut off, helped fill the voids in our stomachs, but you can’t fool the body all the time.  Waistlines now had shrunk to the point where, with continued belt tightening the tip of one’s belt was now reaching the small of one’s back…

It was during a heavy air attack at Marsa Creek, an inlet a short distance from my home, where a freighter was hit sending some of its cargo of flour in great clouds high into the air. Just  as soon as the dust had settled, crowds of kids, including my nine years old brother Francis, descended on the scene widely scooping up from the ground, in empty tins and cans, grit, dust and all, as much flour as possible to take home.  At this unexpected bounty, little as it was, my mother, completely surprised and overjoyed, quickly added water kneading it into a kind of dough and cooked it. We could not wait until it was ready and when it was, we literally wolfed it down, crunching the dust and grit between our teeth and offering deep thanks to God for his loving beneficence…

The ravages of the siege with its acute food shortages, continuous bombing and sleepless nights left its mark in the form of early deaths, weakened constitutions, miscarriages and stillborn babies. With weakened immune systems they fell prey to infections and diseases which in normal times would have been easily overcome but became fatal for people so weakened. There were outbreaks of typhoid and of polio, a disease then practically unknown in Malta. Their death certificates may show statements such as ”death from natural causes ” or “death from this disease or that” but really they were war casualties.  Joseph V Stephens, May 17, 2012

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 AUGUST TO DAWN 6 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

Pen-building on aerodromes continues on the same scale as yesterday.  Extensive beach and aerodrome patrols are carried out by 1 Brigade.  Major General R MacK Scobie CBE MC arrived by air from ME to take over as GOC Troops, Malta.

0850-0935 hrs  Air raid alert.

0930-1015 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali search for an enemy pilot in the sea but find nothing.

1030-1200 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an enemy fighter sweep; two return early.  The other two see eight ME 109s and attack one apiece, each firing a three-second burst but seeing no strike.  The Spitfires swing round to make a second attack but the Messerschmitts get away.

1045-1155 hrs  Air raid alert.

1207-1239 hrs  Four Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

1745-1810 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled and sight 15 enemy fighters.  One Re 2001 attacks Sgt Irwin but overshoots.  Sgt Irwin closes in and counter-attacks with a three-second burst at 250 yards, hitting the root of the port wing and forward of the fuselage.  The Italian fighter streams glycol and dives away: probably destroyed.  Sgt Irwin is then attacked by another Re 2001 and hit by an explosive shell.  His Spitfire goes into a downward spin but Sgt Irwin is unhurt.  Four of the Spitfires report marked radio interference.

2330-2350 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which drop bombs on Mellieha Ridge and on Gozo, causing civilian casualties.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Gaetana Abela, age 20; Samuel Zammit, age 63.  Gozo (Gharb)  Kalang Mizzi, age 60.  Gozo (San Lawrenz)  Nazzerna Attard, age 28; Josephine Farrugia, age 66; Carmela Farrugia, age 35; Mary Farrugia, age 35.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 5 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P44 returned from patrol off Kuriat, having scored 2 hits with 3 inch guns on a 2000 ton [merchant vessel] off Linosa and was swept in by Hythe.  M/S Flotilla swept 19 mines in Northern rectangle of QBB 273.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Catalina, one Spitfire, one Beaufighter, two Hudsons from Gibraltar; one DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  Three Hudsons, one Catalina to Gibraltar; one Wellington to LG 224; one DC3 to Bilbeis.

6 August 1942: Shoes Made From Old Tyres

The shortage was not just in food. It was in everything. Clothes and shoes, for example, were completely unobtainable. Shoes, which wore out quicker than clothes, were substituted by scrapped vehicle and aircraft tyres for soles and with pieces of string to hold them [on] the foot.”  Joseph Zahra, 2011

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 AUGUST TO DAWN 7 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0645-0750 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol; two return early.  No enemy aircraft are sighted.

0900-0930 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled on intercept patrol; one returns early: no sightings.

1010-1030 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: nothing to report.

1150-1220 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1420-1445 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  They sight enemy fighters and climb to three thousand feet.  The enemy aircraft change course and are lost in the haze.

1700-1730 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but find nothing.

1940-2030 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron search for enemy shipping but sight no craft.

2226-2243 hrs  Air raid alert.  A single enemy aircraft drops bombs three miles north east of Grand Harbour.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                              Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 6 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy carried out Oropesa, SA and LL sweep of Marsaxlokk approaches and anchored there for the night. One moored mine was swept in inshore strip and this strip is now considered clear.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar; one DC3 to Bilbeis.

LUQA  A further decrease in the working party strength brings the figure for the aerodrome down to just over 800 all ranks.

7 August 1942: No Deliveries to Relieve Malta

HMS Speedy minesweeping off Malta (NWMA Malta)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 AUGUST TO DAWN 8 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

Slight increase in strength of working parties provided by 4 Brigade brings the total for all aerodromes up to approx 1400 all ranks.

0830-0915 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: nothing to report.

1315 hrs  Two Beaufighters Mark VI of 248 Squadron arrive at Ta Qali.

1405-1435 hrs  Air raid alert for six ME 109s which cross the Island at very high altitude.

1630-1650 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol: nothing to report.

1830-1945 hrs  Four Spitfires Hal Far are airborne: nothing sighted.

1945-2025 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron search for enemy shipping: no craft sighted.

2325-2335 hrs  Air raid alert.  Only two of the five enemy aircraft which approach the Island cross the coast, dropping bombs near Torri L’Ahmar, Il Maqhtab and in the sea off St Andrews

Military casualties  Nil.                                                              Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 7 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy swept Otus into Marsaxlokk and then swept centre line of QBB 273 while returning to Marsamxett.  Otus remained bottomed off Delimara Light until dark, when she surfaced and proceeded alongside Shell Pier to unload cargo.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Beaufighters, four Hudsons, one Wellington from Gibraltar; three Beauforts from LG 224; three Beauforts from LG 226; two Baltimores from Burg Arab.

LUQA  The camp cinema is now running.

8 August 1942: Enemy Tactics Aim to Use Up Malta’s Fighter Fuel

Sir Ronald Mackenzie Scobie in Athens

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 8 AUGUST 1942

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

  1. Quietest week in many months for bombing.  Enemy air effort limited to attempts to wear down fighter strength and waste our aviation petrol by fighter sweeps and tip and run tactics.  Average 30 fighter sorties daily against Island.  Total 10 bombers by day, 17 by night.  Bombs widespread.  Enemy fighter casualties four destroyed, two probable, one damaged by RAF.
  2. 2.  RAF and Infantry working parties totalling 2000 men and 150 vehicles completed building of 30 pens for RAF in record time.
  3. 3.  Military damage and casualties nil.
  4. 4.  Major General R Mack Scobie arrived 6 August to take over GOC.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 AUGUST TO DAWN 9 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0930-1015 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept 30 approaching enemy fighters including ME 109s and Re 2001s.  Two Spitfires return early.  The remainder sight eight Macchi fighters.  Then two ME 109s are seen diving on three Spitfires as another six pass overhead.  Eight more Messerschmitts join the fight and the Spitfires spiral down towards the MEs.  P/O Jones fires a burst at 50 yards at a ME 109 which is chasing a Spitfire: the Messerschmitt turns into the sun and is seen spinning downwards, streaming glycol.  Sgt Beurling fires at a ME 109 which streams glycol and dives into the sea from 20000 feet.  Sgt Beurling is shot up and crash lands at Luqa; he is unhurt.  Sgt Budd attacks a ME 109, opening fire at 100 yards and hitting the starboard wing.  Sgt Budd is himself shot up and slightly wounded in the shoulder.  Three ME 109s are destroyed and another damaged.

1030-1115 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron patrol off Grand Harbour: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1215-1235 hrs  Air raid alert.

1626-1706 hrs  Two Spitfires Hal Far carry out a search.

1936-2027 hrs  Two Spitfires Hal Far patrol off the coast of Sicily in search of E boats: nothing sighted.

2145-2205 hrs  Air raid alert for a single aircraft which drops bombs in the sea north of Gozo.

Military casualties  Sergeant Clarence Kelly, Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 8 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Otus proceeded to bottoming berth at 0600, having discharged all cargo except five torpedoes. Minesweepers cut two mines while clearing special area. After dark, Otus completed unloading.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Catalina, two Beaufighters from Gibraltar; one DC3 from BilbeisDepartures  Four Hudsons, one Catalina to Gibraltar; one DC3 to Bilbeis; one Wellington to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire damaged in enemy action: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire failed to return to base:pilot missing.

TA QALI  One ME 109 destroyed by P/O Jones, one by Sgt Beurling.  One ME 109 damaged by Sgt Budd.  Two Spitfires damaged.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 47.  Dealt with: 16 High Explosives, including 2 delayed-action (1 x 1800kg; 2 x 500kg; 6 x 250kg; 3 x 50kg; 3 x 35kg; 1 x 12kg); 127 anti-personnel bombs plus a few oil incendiaries.

(1)  An Irish Fusilier in Malta, BBC WW2 People’s War, contributed by IpswichMuseum.  WW2 People’s War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar.

(2) Canadian Air Aces and Heroes, WWI, WWII and Korea

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

 
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26 July-1 August 1942: Six Air Raid Warnings a Day

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26 July 1942: 188 Air Raid Alerts in July

Heading for shelter, South St Valletta (NWMA Malta)

AIR RAID STATISTICS – JULY 1942

  • Total number of air raid alerts  188
  • Raid-free days  Nil
  • Night raids  57
  • Raid-free nights  15
  • Alerts for own planes  17
  • Total time from air raid alert to raiders passed  3 days, 18 hrs, 3 mins
  • Average length of alert  27.7 mins

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 JULY TO DAWN 27 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0920-0943 hrs  Air raid alert: three ME 109s cross the Island.

1030 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.

1038-1110 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven JU88s attack Ta Qali, dropping high explosive and anti-personnel bombs on the airfield.  High explosive bombs are dropped on the western dispersal area: one Spitfire is damaged by fire, three others by shrapnel.  Delayed-action bombs are dropped opposite Cave No 4, and between the main Rabat-Valletta road and the site of Chateau Bertrand.  Several anti-personnel bombs fall on Mosta.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.  Spitfires attack the bombers and twelve fighters after their raid: one Macchi 202 is damaged.

1405 hrs  Eight Spitfires are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft but do not see them.

1411-1445 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five JU88s with an escort of twenty fighters attack Hal Far from 18000 feet.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: no claims.

1600 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft; seven return early with engine trouble.  The remaining Spitfire makes no interceptions.

1651-1740 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven JU 88s with fighter escort attack Luqa, destroying one Spitfire and three Beauforts and damaging one Wellington.  Twelve bombs are dropped on the Safi strip runway and on the dispersal area from a high level.  Several delayed-action bombs are also dropped.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Malta fighters destroy one JU 88 and damage one ME 109.

1830 hrs; 2130 hrs  Delayed-action bombs explode at Ta Qali.

2215-2300 hrs; 0020-0035 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two aircraft approach the Island: all bombs are dropped in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and searchlights illuminate both raiders.

Military casualties  Identity unknown.                                                                     Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 26 JULY 1942

AIR HQ  Four Hurricanes were despatched to attack Gela aerodrome.  One returned early with mechanical trouble; another did not locate the target and returned with bombs.  The third, owing to heavy petrol consumption, could not reach the target but released two 250lb bombs in the vicinity of Scilli.  The fourth attacked Gela.  Bombs were dropped from 3000 feet and buildings and motor transport machine-gunned, but no results were seen in either case.

Arrivals  One Wellington, two Hudsons, one Sunderland, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  One Wellington en route Gibraltar to LG 224 landed Malta.  One Liberator from LG 224.  Departures  Two Hudsons from Gibraltar; one Wellington from LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufighter skidded on landing: crew uninjured.

27 July 1942: Thousands Homeless – Governor Warns PM

GORT PRAISES MALTESE BUT WARNS OF HARDSHIPS TO COME

Maltese living in shelters (NWMA Malta)

Lord Gort has today written to the Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill warning that thousands of Maltese could be homeless next winter due to the devastation wrought by enemy bombing.  More than ten thousand homes have been destroyed so far and the Island lacks the manpower or resources to rebuilt them during the continuing conflict.

Gort praised the stoicism of the Maltese, whose morale has been lifted by the recent deliveries of Spitfires to the Island.  However, with the loss of Malta fighters averaging three a day, he reminded the PM that more will be needed to protect any future convoy.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 JULY TO DAWN 28 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly.

0740 hrs  Delayed-action bombs explode near Ta Qali camp.

0831-0840 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft orbit north of the Island and then recede.

0855 hrs  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  Sgt Beurling destroys one ME 109.  Malta fighters destroy another three ME 109s and one Macchi 202, probably destroy one JU 88 and damage two JU 88s and one ME 109.  Heavy Ack Ack also engage.

0915-0933 hrs  Air raid alert.  Nine JU88s with fighter escort attack Ta Qali, killing one Army Officer.  High explosive bombs are dropped on the aerodrome and runway.  Some delayed-action bombs are suspected.  The aerodrome is temporarily unserviceable.  249 Squadron moves to operate from Luqa and 603 Squadron from Hal Far.

1157-1235 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four JU 88s attempting a bombing raid are intercepted by Malta fighters and forced to jettison their bombs in sea.  They recede north without crossing the coast.  One Heavy Ack Ack pointers engage.  Malta fighters destroy three JU 88s and four ME 109s, and damage one JU 88 and one ME 109.

1305-1325 hrs; 1355-1420 hrs; 1545-1605 hrs  Three air raid alerts sound for aircraft carrying out searches to the north east of the Island and one fighter sweep by two ME 109s.  Malta fighters probably destroy one ME 109 and damage another.

1935 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft see two JU 88s with a large escort of ME 109s.  F/Sgt Rae probably destroys one ME 109 and one RE 2001.

1952-2026 hrs   Air raid alrt.  Three JU 88s bomb the Safi strip. Heavy Ack Ack engage and Malta fighters probably destroy one ME 109 and damage one RE 2001.

2040-2050 hrs  Air raid alert.  A further search is carried out by four enemy aircraft 25 miles north of Grand Harbour.

2245-2330 hrs  Air raid alert sounds for six aircraft, of which only one crosses the coast and drops bombs south of Hal Far.  Another drops bombs in the sea off Benghaisa.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                                     Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Capitano Furio Doglio Niclot, 151a Squadriglia, shot down and died.  Sergente Maggiore Faliero Gelli, 378a Squadriglia, 155o Gruppo, 51o Stormo, pilot of a Macchi C202, shot down and injured in the crash: taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 27 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Sweepers carried out a sweep of QBB 273. 1 mine cut inside channel and one outside.

AIR HQ  Three Hurricanes were despatched to attack Comiso aerodrome.  One could not release bombs; the other two dropped bombs in the south-west dispersal area.  No results were seen.

Arrivals  One Catalina, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  One Wellington en route Gibraltar to LG 224 landed Malta; three Liberators from LG 224; one DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  One Sunderland, one Hudson, one Liberator from Gibraltar; one Catalina from Aboukir; one DC3 from Bilbeis; three Wellingtons from LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot up in combat: pilot injured.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Lt T Whitworth arrived from Mid-East and posted to No. 128 Bomb Disposal Section.  Lt F W Ashall posted to HQ Fortress RE.  Establishment 127 Bomb Disposal Section: 1 Officer, 19 Other Ranks; 128 BD Section: 1 Officer, 16 Other Ranks.

28 July 1942: Malta Fighters Double Hat-Trick

Malta Spitfires destroyed or damaged every single bomber attempting an air raid over the Island today.  In two separate raids, three JU 88 bombers were attacked by fighters on intercept missions.  In the first raid one bomber was destroyed and the other two damaged; in the second, all three JU 88s were destroyed.  Five enemy fighters were also damaged or destroyed in the dog-fights.

Liberators Land in Malta

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 JULY TO DAWN 29 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; clear.

0836-0915 hrs  Air raid alert.  A strong fighter sweep by 27 ME109s.  Malta fighters engage: no claims.

1113 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  They spot three JU 88s, eight ME 109s and two RE 2001a.  F/Sgt Rae and Sgt Gass probably destroy one JU 88.  S/Ldr Mitchell probably destroys one JU 88.  F/Sgt Rae and P/O Yates each damage one JU 88.  F/Sgt Parkes probably destroys one ME 109.  Sgt Wynn damages one ME 109.  P/O McElroy damages one ME 109 and one RE 2001.

1145-1215 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

1420-1520 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol: nil report.

1715-1747 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three JU88s escorted by twelve ME109s drop bombs on Hal Far and Bubaqra, and near Luqa.   Heavy Ack Ack engage and Malta fighters destroy all three bombers and one ME 109.  One JU 88 crashes onto Wolseley Camp of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt, damaging vehicles and equipment.

1720-1745 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne to escort the High Speed Launch.  They see a JU 88 crash on a tip of land.  The Launch picks up two German parachutes.

1920-2020 hrs  Two Spitfies 249 Squadron on shipping search: no sightings.

2245-2340 hrs  Air raid alert for six bombers which approach singly and drop bombs on Hal Far and Luqa.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and searchlights effect two illuminations.

Military casualties  Sergeant Donald Hubbard, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Civilian casualties  Ghaxaq  Joseph Abela, age 13.  Mosta  John Fenech, age 11.  Zurrieq  Carmel Buhagiar, age 10; Joseph Buhagiar; Salvina D’Amato, age 18.

Enemy casualties  Crews of JU 88 bombers: Gefreiter Peter Bolten, Observer, shot down and died; Unteroffizier Albert Fuehrer, Pilot, shot down and died; Unteroffizier Karl Bauer, Wireless Operator, shot down into the sea, rescued and taken prisoner; Unteroffizier Gustav Frick, Air Gunner, shot down into the sea, rescued and taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 28 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Swona and Motor Launches swept approaches to Marsaxlokk.  Beauforts, escorted by Beaufighters, attacked convoy and damaged one merchant vessel, which was later seen in Navarin by PRU Spitfire. Two Beauforts failed to return.  Three bombs fell close to War Signal Station at Torri L’Ahmar, causing minor damage, but no casualties.

AIR HQ  Nine Beauforts escorted by six Beaufighters attacked a southbound convoy comprising two destroyers and one 7000 ton merchant vessel in position 185 degrees Sapienza 10 miles.  The merchant vessel was hit once, pouring white smoke; this was confirmed by photos.  Bombs carried on three aircraft were dropped on the destroyers scoring near-misses.  All vessels were machine-gunned.  Photos show the merchant vessel in Navarino in the evening and was still there on 1 August 1942.

Four Hurricanes were despatched to attack Gela aerodrome.  One returned owing to oil trouble; the other three dropped bombs on the Operations Headquarters and Stores Depot, without visible results.

Arrivals  One Catalina, one Wellington, one Beaufort from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Liberators, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed on landing after combat: pilot killed.  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot rescued.

29 July 1942: RAF Heroes Skyjack Drama

Last night nine Beauforts of 217 Squadron, escorted by Beaufighters, attacked an enemy convoy of two destroyers and one merchant vessel, steaming southwards from Sapienza.  Among them was Beaufort L9820, piloted by South African Lt E T (Ted) Strever, with P/O W M Dunsmore, Sgt J A Wilkinson and Sgt A R Brown as crew.  As they flew over the merchantman to release their torpedo, the aircraft was hit in both engines.  Forced to ditch in the sea, Strever almost drowned in the cockpit before managing to struggle free and join his crew in their dinghy.

Within hours they were picked up by an Italian Cant Z506B floatplane, which took them to the Island of Corfu.  They were treated very well, given a good meal and a bed for the night.  Next morning they boarded a floatplane to be flown to Taranto, faced with the prospect of becoming prisoners of war.  But as the aircraft approached Sicily, the captive airmen set upon the Cant’s five-man crew, disabling the radio operator and disarming the others before ordering the pilot to change course for Malta.

RAF ‘hijackers’ and Italian crew surrender

As the apparently hostile aircraft neared the Island, it triggered the air raid alert and six Spitfires of 603 Squadron Ta Qali were scrambled to intercept.  Three of them attacked the floatplane as it approached St Paul’s Bay.  Lt Strever ordered the Italian pilot to land immediately on the water.  One of his crew then pulled of his shirt and his vest, to wave as a white flag as they scrambled onto the wings.

Puzzled, the Spitfire pilots ceased firing and radioed for the air sea rescue launch, circling overhead until it arrived.  The crew of HSL 107 were bemused to find four RAF airmen waiting for them on the floatplane’s wings, along with its crew of five Italians.

Highjacked Cant float-plane at Kalafrana

Air Sea Rescue commander J S Houghton recalled:  “The Cant…was towed by HSL 107 to St Paul’s Island.  It was then passed over to our Seaplane Tender and taken to a buoy off St Paul’s Pier, where the five Italians and four Commonwealth airmen were taken ashore.  A very strong Army guard was provided to prevent the locals from attacking the Italians.  The South African captain, who had led the hijack, brandished his revolver, leaving no doubt as to what he would have done if the Italians had been harmed.” (2)  Lt Strever returned his previous captors’ hospitality before seeing them in turn taken prisoners of war.  For their actions Lt Strever and P/O Dunsmore were awarded the DFC and Sgts Brown and Wilkinson the DFM.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 JULY TO DAWN 30 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0820-0845 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: nil reports.

0915-1040 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an approaching formation of sixteen ME 109s and four Macchi 202s.  Sgt Beurling destroys one ME 109 before his machine is hit by machine-gunfire: the bullets shoot the entire hood off his cockpit.  Sgt Budd shoots off the fin and rudder of a ME 109 before his machine is hit by machine-gunfire.

0955-1023 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are on patrol when six JU88s with fighter escort approach the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack fire and Malta fighters engage, forcing the bombers to jettison their bombs north of the Island and destroying two ME 109s and one Macchi 202 without loss.

1300 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six Spitfires 603 Squadron see an enemy float plane coming towards St Paul’s Bay.  When attacked, the enemy aircraft is seen to pancake on the water.  Five men come out onto the wings, waving a white flag.  The Spitfires orbit until the enemy aircraft is towed into St Paul’s Bay by the High Speed Launch.

1558-1610 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are despatched to intercept.  Two return early with radio and engine trouble.  Three enemy aircraft carry out a small fighter sweep but do not cross the coast.

1640-1645 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron take off on patrol: no engagement.

1705-1730 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron patrol over the Italian floatplane.

1750-1815 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

2200-2210 hrs  Air raid alert.  A single aircraft drops bombs in the sea north west of Gozo, then recedes.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Crew of Cant-Z506B floatplane hijacked en route from Corfu to Taranto taken prisoner:  Maresciallo Alessandro Cifari, co-pilot; Sergenti T Losi, engineer; Tenente Gaetano Mastrodicasa, pilot; Aviere Scelto Marcello Schisano, wireless operator and Sergente Carabiniere Giulio Scarciella.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 29 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde arrived and was swept into Marsaxlokk.  The inshore edge of QBB 273 was then swept and nine mines cut.  Italian flying boat landed in St Julian’s Bay and surrendered. This aircraft was captured by the crew of one of the Beauforts, which crashed during the attack on the convoy the previous night, who while on passage from Navarin to Italy, overpowered the crew and forced them to fly them to Malta.  Clyde discharged practically all her cargo on the night of 29th/30th.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Liberators, three Beauforts, one Wellington from Gibraltar.  One DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  One DC3 from Bilbeis.  Aircraft casualties  Two Beauforts shot down while attacking convoy: one crew took to dinghy; one crew returned to base.  One Spitfire flap failed on landing: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire crashed on landing: pilot uninjured.

30  July 1942: War Artist for Malta

From:  Governor & C in C Malta               To:  The War Office                 Personal from Lord Gort for CIGS

I shall be glad to have war artists.  Please consult Ministry of Information whose cable Empax 45 suggests the name.  Is this the artist you have in mind?  It should be made clear that artist would work under information officer.  This would be in accordance with local arrangements whereby official War Office photographer works under general supervision information officer who is in position greatly to assist in choice of subjects and distribution of products.

Malta: Fighters take off from Luca’s bombed runway, by Leslie Cole 1943                                                  © IWM (art.IWM ART LD 3554)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 JULY TO DAWN 31 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind northerly; fast-moving cloud.

0745-0800 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron and eight of 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.

0820-0845 hrs  Air raid alert for a 35-strong fighter sweep of 35.  The Spitfires of 603 Squadron attack four ME 109s but then the Spitfires are jumped by six Macchi 202s.  F/Sgt Parkinson destroys one ME 109.

1055 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne to intercept approaching a reported plot of 27 hostile aircraft, including bombers.  One Spitfire returns early and runs into enemy fighters.  One Spitfire is slightly damaged; the pilot is unhurt.  Five minutes later, eight Spitfires 249 Squadron take off; two return early and are attacked by Messerschmitts.

1125-1200 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise: it is believed that the bombers turned back.

1605-1625 hrs; 1840-1850 hrs  Two air raid alerts for small groups of fighters: one group crosses the Island at 26000 feet on reconnaissance.

2130-2225 hrs  Air raid alert for four single bombers, only two of which cross the coast and drop bombs on St Julians, Birkirkara and Tal Qroqq areas, killing twelve civilians and wounding twenty-four.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and one JU 88 is destroyed by a Beaufighter before reaching the Island.

Military casualties  Sergeant Colin Wood, Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Civilian casualties  See 31 July.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 30 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P42 sailed on patrol.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson, three Beauforts from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Liberators, one Hudson from Gibraltar;  one Wellington from LG 224; one Beaufighter from Abu Sueir.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed on landing after combat: pilot uninjured.

31 July 1942: Park’s Tactics Keep Bombers Away

ME 109 fighters

The new tactics introduced by Air Officer Commanding Air Vice-Marshal Sir Keith Park were evidently taking effect today as enemy bombers stayed clear of the Island throughout daylight hours.  The AOC’s ‘Forward Interception Plan’, issued on 25 July, has resulted in increased aircraft losses for the enemy and forced many bombers to jettison their payload before reaching target.

Axis command is now sending only fighter sweeps in daylight, flying at high altitude in an attempt to gain the advantage over Malta’s Spitfires.  In response, Park has ordered his fighters to remain below 20000 feet to force the enemy to drop to their preferred altitude if he wants to engage in combat.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 JULY TO DAWN 1 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; little cloud.

Day  Three fighter sweeps of 6, 15 and 30 aircraft respectively; very few fighters cross the coast. Malta fighters destroy two ME 109s and one RE 2001, and damage one Macchi 202.  Heavy Ack Ack engage the last raid with pointer rounds.

0735-0845 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are despatched on intercept patrol: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1047-1105 hrs  Air raid alert.

1440-1520 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  They encounter six unidentified fighters.  One Spitfire’s engine cuts out, and the aircraft returns.  Another Spitfire engine cuts out: Sgt Ballantyne attempts to land at Luqa and overshoots the runway, damaging his aircraft.  Sgt Parkinson damages one Macchi 202.

1610-1640 hrs  Air raid alert.

2205-2256 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which do not cross the coast.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Anthony Agius, age 29; Carmel Borg, age 27; John Busuttil, age 16; Pauline Busuttil, age 5; Joseph Calleja, age 75; Georgina Dimech, age 28; Michael Fenech, age 47; Orazia Grech, age 4; Maria Melita Medati, age 50; Mary Scerri, age 9; Carmela Sammut, age 23; Amabile Sammut, age 21.  Mgarr  Joseph Deguara, age 45.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 31 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Parthian sailed for Gibraltar.  P34 arrived and swept into harbour by Rye. Swona carried out sweep of entrance channel.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot missing.  One Spitfire shot up in combat: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire engine cut on landing: pilot uninjured.

1 August 1942: Pilot’s 16 Hour Paddle to Safety

A pilot reported missing turned up safe and well this morning, nearly 24 hours after he left base.  Pilot Officer Tony Bruce took off yesterday from Hal Far to intercept enemy raiders.  He was attacked off-shore by an enemy fighter and his Spitfire was seen to ditch in the sea.  When no trace of him was found, the pilot was thought to have perished, until he staggered ashore this morning.

P/O Bruce had managed to scramble into his dinghy, which he then paddled single-handed the 15 miles back to shore.  He took 16 hours to complete the journey, to the surprise of comrades who thought he had perished.

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 1 AUGUST 1942

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

1.  First two days bomber attacks by total 33 JU88 continued against aerodromes.  Successful interceptions by fighters and destruction of complete bomber formations has made enemy change tactics.  Thereafter strong fighter sweeps only.  Bombers have sometimes approached but invariably turned back or jettisoned bombs.

One Italian float plane Cant 506 B captured and flown intact with Italian crew to Malta by crew of Beaufort previously shot down and rescued in Ionian Sea.  Nine Beauforts and six Beaufighters attacked convoy bound for Libya immobilising one merchant vessel 5000 tons.  Eleven sorties by bomb-carrying Hurricanes against Sicilian aerodromes.

2.  Enemy aircraft casualties.  Eight bombers 17 fighters destroyed, five probably 16 damaged by RAF.  Ack Ack no claims.

Army builds 30 more pens in a week

3.  At urgent request of RAF for 30 new aircraft pens to be built in one week and others to be repaired Army working parties of 2000 men and 150 vehicles provided working two shifts daily.

4.  Military damage slight.  Casualties one Officer killed; one Officer, two Other Ranks wounded.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 AUGUST TO DAWN 2 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

Day  Four fighter sweeps, two of them in strength totalling 52 aircraft.

0922 hrs  Air raid alert.  A formation of enemy fighters is reported heading towards the Island.  Six Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept.  They are joined by eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali, of which two return early.  There is no engagement.

0945-1015 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali carry out a patrol: nothing to report.

1235-1255 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled and try to intercept four ME 109s but are unable to catch them before they cross the Island.

1422-1455 hrs  Air raid alert for another fighter sweep.  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept a fighter sweep: no engagement.

1645-1720 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept a fighter sweep: nothing sighted.

2250-2325 hrs  One air raid alert for three aircraft.  Bombs are dropped in the sea off Il Blata.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Joseph Galea, age 13.

OPERATIONS REPORTS DAY 1 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde sailed for Gibraltar being swept out by Hythe, who subsequently swept P31 into Harbour.  P44 also sailed, carrying out night full calibre firing at Filfla before proceeding on patrol.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Catalina, one Liberator, two Beauforts, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Liberator to St Jean Fayid or LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot rescued uninjured.

HAL FAR  Wing Commander Douglas-Hamilton assumed the duties of Wing Commander in charge of flying.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 75.  Dealt with: High Explosives 23, including 7delayed-action (4 x 500kg; 16 x 250kg; 2 x 50kg; 1 x 35kg); 341 anti-personnel bombs.

(1)  The SAAF at War 1940-1984, Bouwer, J S & Louw, M N, Chris van Rensburg, 1989

(2)  Malta: Blitzed but not Beaten, Philip Vella, Progress Press, 1985

 

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Posted by on August 1, 2017 in 1942, August 1942, July 1942

 

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