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29 November-5 December 1942: The Siege is Broken

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MALTA WAR DIARY  FINISHES 5 DECEMBER 1942

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29 November 1942: Starvation Rations Barely Eased Despite Convoy

Children in ruinsMalta has been holding its breath for news from the Government following the arrival of last week’s convoy.  The first one subject on everyone’s mind is food.  For many weeks, the Island’s armed forces and civilians alike have been on the verge of starvation.  The want of food has created a greater fear even than heavy bombing.  Children crying for want of food have become a common sight in the streets.  The death rate among babies and the elderly has risen, viral and infections diseases have increased.

Although they could not openly acknowledge it, the authorities knew that without the convoy supplies would have run out completely on 3 December.  Even with the latest delivery, stocks are only sufficient to feed the Island for another two weeks and there is no certainty when the next convoy will arrive.

Today’s announcement outlined the difficult choice faced by the Government: whether to raise rations in the hope of another convoy, or to be cautious until safe passage for supply ships is guaranteed.  In the event rations will be raised slightly, with an increase in the all-important bread allowance targeted at men from 16 to 60 in the first instance, starting 1 December.  For the rest of the population cheese and fats rations will be doubled and sugar restored to previous ration rates.  Any increase in other commodities will have to wait until further convoy deliveries.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 30 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather   Mainly fair.

0740-0825 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne to patrol Cape Scalabri as rear cover for returning bombers: no enemy aircraft seen.

1005 hrs  Spitfires from Luqa are airborne to provide cover for 185 Squadron returning from a bombing mission.

1100-1215 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to act as cover for returning Spitfires of 185 Squadron: no enemy sighted.

1425-1605 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on patrol: no sightings.

1640-1647 hrs  Air raid alert: aircraft identified as friendly.

1220-1325 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron carry out a sweep over south east Sicily: nothing sighted.

Night  Beaufighters 89 Squadron on intercept patrol over the Island and surrounding area: no enemy aircraft seen.

0230-0505 hrs  One Swordfish is despatched to search for a missing Wellington crew: an oil patch is spotted on the sea, but no dinghy.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Zejtun  Emanuel Carabott, age 53.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 29 NOVEMBER 1942

P 46 HMS Unruffled

P 46 HMS Unruffled

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept P 46 to sea.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufighter, one Hurricane from Bone; two Hudsons from Gibraltar; two Wellingtons from Benghazi.  Departures  One DC 3, one Wellington to LG 224; one DC 3 to El Adem; one Liberator to Gibraltar; one Beaufighter to Bone; one Beaufighter to Algiers via Bone.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort shot down by enemy aircraft: crew missing.

LUQA  Five sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron covering harbours and aerodromes in Italy.  1730-2300 hrs  Seven Wellingtons 40 and 104 Squadrons were airborne to attack the docks at Bizerta in three waves.  Bombs fell near fuel tanks and among buildings, causing one large fire visible 50 miles away.  Eight Beauforts 39 Squadron were sent to lay mines in the entrance of Palermo harbour:  one was hit by flak and ditched into the sea.  The crew pilot F/Sgt Ellis Walker and Sgts R J McCallough, G R A Duffield and G D Stevens are missing.

TA QALI  0605-1055 hrs  Two Beaufighters 227 Squadron on offensive sweep strafed motor transport and railway in Pantelleria.  0725-0920 hrs  Two Spitfires 227 Squadron on offensive sweep: no sightings.  0730-0830 hrs  Nine Spitfires, five carrying bombs, of 249 Squadron on bombing sweep:  bombs were dropped on Comiso aerodrome with good results.  Beaufighters had their most active day of the month, flying 18 sorties against shipping and aircraft in the north east area of Tunis.  1010-1330 hrs  Three Beaufighters 227 Squadron on offensive sweep: one coaster attacked and damaged.  1250-1630 hrs  Two Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive sweep: P/O Palmer destroyed one JU 52.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Convoy duties continue.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged at sub-depot.

 

30 November 1942:  Spitfire Bombers Turn Table on Axis

AIR RAID STATISTICS NOVEMBER 1942

  • Total number of alerts to date 3165
  • Total number of alerts this month 30
  • Number of blank days 11
  • Number of night raids 13
  • Raid free nights 23
  • Alerts for own planes 7
  • Total time from air raid alert to Raiders Passed 10 hrs 35 mins
  • Average length of alert 21.2 mins

MALTA’S FIGHTER BOMBERS KEEP AXIS AIRCRAFT ON THE GROUND

Spitfire Mk V fighter bomber

Spitfire Mk V fighter bomber

Having suffered for many months at the hands of Messerschmitt fighter bombers, Malta has turned the tables on the Axis with its own Spitfire Bomber force.  Brought into use for the first time at the beginning of this month, the Island’s fighter bombers have carried out many attacks on the southern Italian aerodromes, flying a total of 54 successful sorties in which they dropped 13 tons of bombs.

Main targets for the Spitfire Bombers are Comiso and Gela aerodromes.  Although many German and Italian fighters are still based in south east Sicily, they have shown a surprising reluctance to engage Malta’s fighter bombers.  On the few occasions when enemy fighters have been encountered the close escort of Spitfires has had no difficulty in driving them off.   Their busiest day so far was Wednesday 25 November, when Spitfire Bombers flew 19 sorties.

Today saw 13 sorties: the first this morning was by 185 Squadron.  Four fighter bombers with four Spitfire fighters as close escort were despatched to bomb Comiso aerodrome.  Four explosions were observed to the rear of the main buildings east of the aerodrome.  On the way out, the second pair of Spitfire bombers was attacked from below by a Macchi 200.  Strikes hit Sgt Gunstone in Red 3, who fired three bursts in return, seeing strikes along the Italian’s fuselage and can claim one Macchi 200 damaged.  17 more Spitfires, nine of which were carrying bombs, attacked Comiso in two waves: one Macchi 200 was damaged.

272 SQUADRON COMMANDING OFFICER BACK FROM THE DEAD

Two RAF officers walked into the RAF Officers’ mess today to the surprise and delight of their comrades who thought they had been lost in action.  Squadron Leader Antony (Tony) Watson, Commanding Officer of 272 Squadron, and his navigator Pilot Officer C F Cutting were reported missing on 14 November.  During an attack on El Aouina aerodrome, they were strafing a German JU 52 on the ground when their Beaufighter was hit by flak, damaging the starboard engine.  They were last seen making an emergency landing on the beach at Tunis, six miles from the airfield.

S/Ldr Watson today related how he and P/O Cutting set fire to the Beaufighter, then set off to find the Allied lines, which they managed to reach without being captured.  Eventually they were able to hitch a ride back to Malta, where they have been duly given membership of the ‘Late Arrivals Club’.

NORTH AFRICAN VENTURE CANCELLED AGAIN

The proposed Army mission to a French port in North Africa was called off again today.  The move follows the report from the RAF, following a reconnaissance flight yesterday.  The project leader Major H M Vaux, MC, also liaised with 1st Army at present in Tunisia and, having reviewed all the information, Fortress Headquarters decided to cancel the proposed operation.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 1 DECEMBER 1942

Weather   Variable; local showers.

0705 hrs  Two Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are airborne to search for a missing Beaufort: no dinghy is seen.

0755 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squaqdron Luqa are airborne to cover the return of fighter bombers: no enemy aircraft seen.

1615-1645 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1615-1700 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron  Hal Far on patrol Grand Harbour: nothing seen.

2359 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa on patrol over Pantelleria: no sightings.

0212-0214 hrs  Air raid alert: aircraft identified as friendly.

Military casualties  Sergeant William Clark, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Sergeant Kenneth Gamble, RAF VR; Flight Sergeant Laurence Helme, RAF VR; Sergeant Thomas Howarth, RAF VR; Sergeant Ronald McLean, RAF VR; Sergeant William Richards, RAF; all 39 Squadron.  Sergeant Donald Reeve, RAF VR, 242 Squadron; Flying Officer Richard Twomey, Royal Australian Air Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS 30 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  The move of 821 Squadron of the Fleet Air Arm (twelve Albacores) from the Western Desert was completed today. No aircraft were lost during passage. Hebe swept P 35 out and P 311 and P 44 in.  P 311 joins Tenth Submarine Flotilla, reporting an uneventful passage direct from the United Kingdom.

P 44 HMS United

P 44 HMS United

HMS Una arrived from patrol in the Gulf of Tunis. On 27 November, she torpedoed and sank a 4000 ton merchant vessel, one of two escorted by a destroyer.  The merchant vessel blew up causing superficial damage to the Una at 1200 yards.  HMS P 44 returned from a patrol off Burat-el-Hsun, Tripoli and Kerkennah areas. At 1845 hrs on 21 November, P 44 entered Burat harbour and engaged a schooner with her 3″ gun, scoring twelve hits; the schooner was considered sunk.

Axis shipping losses November 1942: 19 merchant ships sunk totaling 41,450 tons; 14 merchant ships damaged totaling 29,540 tons.

AIR HQ  Beaufighters on offensive patrols damaged two JU 52s, one SM 79 and two Macchi 200s in the air; destroyed two Cant Z 506s and damaged two more as well as one JU 52 on the ground.  One schooner, motor transport and a train were also shot up.

Two Beaufighters of 227 Squadron attacked a 1500 ton merchant vessel approaching Pantelleria harbour, sighted earlier by a Baltimore.  The two Beaufighters attacked from such a low level that one of them was slightly damaged by striking the funnel of the merchant ship, with its starboard propeller.  Two ME 109s made an abortive attempt to intercept.  Two direct hits were scored, causing a terrific explosion followed by a large column of black and white smoke.  The vessel can be considered destroyed.

Departures  One Hurricane to Bone.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down over enemy territory: pilot missing.  One Spitfire failed to return from operations: pilot missing.  One Wellington crash-landed: crew uninjured.  Two Beauforts failed to return from operations: crews missing.

HAL FAR  12 delivery Albacores arrived from Middle East.  1004-1701 hrs  One Hurricane carried out a special mission: Hal Far to Bone and return.

Poor House Luqa

Poor House Luqa

LUQA  Strengths:  230 Officers, 665 NCOs, 2079 Other Ranks, 771 Army, 600 civilians.  Personnel accommodation made by fixing up Poor House with steel tubular 3-tier bunks.  Owing to inability to obtain beds from equipment sources, 1500 bunks were made.  Material was obtained from aerodrome obstructions and made entirely by RAF personnel working parties.  Three sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron covering the harbours of Naples, Palermo, Bizerta, Tunis and Sousse.

1425 hrs  Three Spitfire bombers with four Spitfires as close escort, all 126 Squadron, are despatched to attack Gela aerodrome: no enemy aircraft seen.  1718 hrs  Ten Wellingtons 40 Squadron were airborne to attack Bizerta: bombs were dropped on target and all aircraft returned safely.  1815 hrs  Eight Beauforts 39 Squadron were despatched to lay mines in Bizerta and Tunis harbours.  Two aircraft failed to return and missing crews were named as: F/Sgt Twomey, F/Sgt Helme, Sgts Gamble and Howarth; P/O Brown and Sgts Richards, McLean and Clark.

TA QALI  0710-0820 hrs  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron carried out a bombing sweep of Gela aerodrome: bombs were dropped on the runway.  0715-0810 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron carry out a bombing sweep of Comiso aerodrome: all bombs dropped on and around target.  1155-1305 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron, six carrying bombs, attacked Gela aerodrome.  Bombs were dropped but results not observed.  Sgt Wendt does not return and is declared missing.   1535-1645 hrs  Nine Spitfires 229 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol: no sightings.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Green dump cleared and guard dismounted.  Other convoy duties continue.  Company strengths 29 Officers, 788 Other Ranks; 3 Officers, 9 Other Ranks attached.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  For period 11-30 November working party provided at Hal Far: four 15 cwt lorries for food delivery, servicing aircraft and as mobile repair vehicles; two impressed lorries for crater filling; two motor cycles as special despatch riders; 16 Other Ranks to man above vehicles.  For period 18-30 November the following were working at Zabbar sub-depot:  four 15 cwt lorries, five impressed lorries and 16 Other Ranks for convoy transport work.  Throughout the month two Twin Lewis guns were manned in the anti-aircraft defence of Safi Strip.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Recce by CO of new central dump at Floriana for unloading of next convoy.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged at sub-depot.

24 FORTRESS COMPANY ROYAL ENGINEERS  Strength of Company: 5 Officers and 226 Other Ranks.  During the month the CQMS store was completed except for finishing touches to roof and the messroom at camp was covered in.  Part of 2 Section billet, weakened by bomb explosions, fell down and is to be rebuilt.  Hot baths were constructed for the Company in No 3 Section billets.

 

1 December 1942: Another Convoy for Malta

A convoy of four merchant ships with a large escort of cruisers and destroyers sailed from Port Said at 1430 hours this afternoon heading for Malta.  The four merchantmen gathered at Lake Timsah by noon yesterday, when a conference was convened by the senior officer of the escort who had flown in from Alexandria for the meeting.

Glenartney

Glenartney

The merchantmen are named as British ships Glenartney and Suffolk, and the American vessels Agwimonte and Alcoa Prospector.  They are accompanied by the cruiser Orion and destroyers Belvoir, Hursley, Pakenham, Petard and Queen Olga (the Greek ship RHS Vassilissa Olga), who were sailed from Alexandria to Port Said to await the arrival of the supply ships.  Codenamed Operation Portcullis, convoy MW 14 was delayed by fog at Ismailia which has now cleared.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 DECEMBER TO DAWN 2 DECEMBER 1942

Weather   Fair.

0720-0800 hrs; 0835-0910 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali at a time on standing patrol: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1142 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching enemy aircraft.  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept but the raiders turned back before they are seen, and while still 20 miles north east of the Grand Harbour.

1155-1305; 1335-1425 hrs; 1425-1535 hrs  12 Spitfire sorties 185 Squadron Hal Far: nothing sighted.

1330-1350 hrs  Air raid alert for four approaching ME 109s which circle over Grand Harbour at a great height before receding north.  Pointer rounds are fired by six Ack Ack gun positions.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but the raiders are too high to engage and avoid combat.

1350 hrs  One transit Wellington from the Middle East carried out an anti-submarine patrol.

1600-1710 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are airborne to act as cover for Spitfire bombers of 249 Squadron.  They are attacked by enemy fighters and take evasive action: P/O Mowbray is reported missing.

Military casualties  Flying Officer John Mowbray, Royal Canadian Air Force, 229 Squadron; Warrant Officer Class II (CSM) Berkley Evans, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment; Private Alfred Syddall, 8th Battalion, Manchester Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 1 DECEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Una swept in from patrol by Speedy.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Wellingtons from Benghazi; one Baltimore from LG 227; one Spitfire from Benina.  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar; one Beaufighter to Heliopolis; one Hurricane to Bone.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufighter crash landed due to engine failure: two crew slightly injured.  One Beaufort missing from operations: crew missing.  One Spitfire believed forced down into sea by enemy action: pilot missing.  One Wellington force landed: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  0640-0735 hrs  Four Spitfire bombers with four Spitfires as close escort, all 185 Squadron, were dispatched to bomb Comiso aerodrome.  Bomber leader suffered engine cut when still 20 miles south of Sicily so jettisoned his bombs and returned.  The remainder of the bomber formation followed suit.  The escort then set course to Noto and returned: nothing seen.  1000 hrs  Hurricane left for Bone.

Albacore pilot prepares for night raid

Albacore pilot prepares for night raid (c) IWM A161612

1827-0030 hrs  One special Albacore and three strike Albacores carried out a torpedo attack on enemy shipping off the west coast of Sicily.  1925-0040 hrs  Two special Albacores and five strike Albacores 821 Fleet Air Arm Squadron were dispatched to attack the same convoy but failed to locate the vessels.  2255 hrs  Fleet Air Arm Albacores damaged a tanker in a convoy of four merchant vessels and five destroyers when fifteen miles south of Marittimo at 2255. Sub/Lt Pratt and Sub/Lt Kendrick scored one hit on a 6-7000 ton tanker which was left ablaze.

LUQA  Personnel arrivals: 25 Other Ranks.  Three sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron on aerodromes and harbours of Naples, Taranto, Messina, Palermo and Trapani. 2215 hrs  Three Beaufighters 89 Squadron patrolled the area of Gabes-Tunis.

TA QALI  29 airmen detached from Station to 39 Squadron, Luqa.  0800-0905 hrs  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron, including six bombers, carried out a bombing raid on Biscari aerodromes: explosions are seen on the airfield.  0905-1325 hrs  Two Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive sweep sighted two unidentified aircraft: no engagement.  1040-1145 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol: no sightings.  1155-1635 hrs  Two Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive patrol, one carrying bombs.  One crashed just after take-off: crew uninjured.  1530-1815 hrs  Two Beaufighters 227 Squadron on offensive sweep attacked a merchant vessel and set the deck cargo on fire.  1545-1655 hrs  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron, including six bombers, carried out a bombing raid on Gela aerodrome: bombs were seen to explode in the north west dispersal area.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Working party provided for administrative and crater-filling duties at Hal Far: four 15 cwt lorries, two impressed lorries, two motor cycles, 16 Other Ranks.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Five 1 ton, two 30 cwt, one 3 ton lorries provided for special service Zabbar.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged at sub-depot. 6 Officers, 200 Other Ranks engaged on aircraft pen construction at Qrendi.

24 FORTRESS COMPANY ROYAL ENGINEERS  Company billeted at Bahar-ic-Cahaq (less No 1 section on DEL stations with HQ at Haywharf, No 2 Section building pens at Qrendi and Maltese details working in barracks, attached to Bomb Disposal, or on convoy duties).

 

2 December 1942: Convoy Rescues RAF Crew Adrift in Dinghy

OPERATION PORTCULLIS CONVOY ASSEMBLES IN MED

HMS Orion

HMS Orion

The cruiser HMS Orion escorted by destroyers Paladin, Dulverton, Exmoor, Hurworth, Aldenham and the Greek Pindos sailed from Alexandria today to rendezvous with the convoy heading for Malta.  Late this afternoon Hurworth was found to have defects; at 1800 hrs she left the convoy to return to Alexandria.

Later this evening Petard spotted a small boat adrift on the sea.  It was identified as an RAF dinghy and its six occupants were rescued and taken aboard the destroyer.

Following a report from Vice Admiral Malta that furnace fuel was urgently required, a last-minute decision has been taken to include a tanker in the convoy.  A vessel which had been originally intended for a later convoy to Malta will now depart immediately from Benghazi.  Destroyers HMS Croome and Tetcott are on their way from Malta to Benghazi to act as escort for the tanker.

MALTA NAVAL FORCES IN COMBINED ATTACK

HMS Jervis

HMS Jervis

Royal Navy ships have wasted no time in returning to the offensive following their arrival in Malta last Friday.  Destroyers Jervis, Javelin, Kelvin and Nubian launched a joint operation with Naval Air Squadrons to attack a convoy off Kerkennah.

The ships sailed at 1400 hrs this afternoon to intercept the enemy convoy of one tanker and two merchant ships, escorted by two torpedo boats and a destroyer, as they steered for Ras Turgeuness. At 2100 hrs aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm and HM Submarine P 35 attacked the convoy south of Kerkennah and sank two merchant ships, seriously damaging another vessel.

The Force K destroyers arrived on the scene shortly after midnight and sank a torpedo boat destroyer which was engaged in picking up survivors from one of the merchant ships.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 DECEMBER TO 3 DECEMBER 1942

Weather   Fair.

No air raid alerts.

0625-0725 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol over the Island: nothing sighted.

0700-0815 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron search for a missing pilot: no sighting.

Military casualties  Sub-Lieutenant William Guy, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, HMS St Angelo; Sub-Lieutenant Colin Taylor, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, HMS St Angelo.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 2 DECEMBER 1942

HMS Trooper

HMS Trooper

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Wellington from LG 104; one DC 3 from El Adem.  Departures  One Hurricane to Bone.  Aircraft casualties  One Albacore lost on operations: crew missing.

HAL FAR  1500 hrs  One Hurricane RNAS which left for Bone yesterday returned: mission accomplished.  1730-2315 hrs  Three Albacores RNAS and eight 821 Squadron were despatched to attack two 5000 ton merchant vessels, one cruiser, one destroyer and one sloop in the Gulf of Gabes.  Both merchant ships were hit and left burning: fires could be seen 70 miles away on the return journey.  One Albacore landed at Luqa; another is missing, along with crew S/Lt Taylor and S/Lt Guy.

LUQA  No operations.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  All drivers report to sub-depots for convoy unloading duties.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Working party provided for administrative and crater-filling duties at Hal Far: four 15 cwt lorries, two impressed lorries, two motor cycles, 16 Other Ranks.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Five 1 ton, two 30 cwt, one 3 ton lorries provided for special service Zabbar.  Four 1 ton lorries, one Officer, 78 men on fatigue at Ta Qali.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  COs conference on establishment of new dumps to be formed at Floriana under 2nd RWK called Pink Dump and at Attard under 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers called White Dump.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged at sub-depot. 6 Officers, 200 Other Ranks engaged on aircraft pen construction at Qrendi.

 

3 December 1942: Tanker Joins Operation Portcullis Convoy

ESCORT STRENGTHENED AS SHIPS APPROACH MALTA

HMS Tetcott

HMS Tetcott

Minelayer HMS Welshman joined the Operation Portcullis convoy at daylight today on her way to Malta, taking advantage of the escort protection.  Then at 1700 hrs this afternoon the American tanker Yorba Linda, escorted by destroyers Croome and Tetcott linked up with the main convoy north east of Benghazi.  Soon afterwards, Welshman left the remaining ships to speed on ahead to Malta.

To cover the final approach of Convoy MW 14 to the Island, Force K cruisers Cleopatra, Dido and Euryalus with destroyers Jervis, Kelvin and Nubian were sailed from Grand Harbour this evening.  They will provide protection for the convoy against possible surface attack.

US LIBERATORS ATTACK ITALIAN BATTLE FLEET

US Liberator bombers from the Middle East today attacked Italian ships in the Bay of Naples, sinking the Muzio Attendolo and damaging two other warships.  The Italian cruiser was photographed yesterday undergoing trials in the Bay of Naples, following recent repairs. 

Italian light cruiser Muzio Attendolo

Italian light cruiser Muzio Attendolo

Major units of the Italian fleet have been observed gathered in southern Italian ports from where they could threaten Allied sea movements through the Mediterranean, including convoys which might attempt the run to Malta.  As well as Attendolo, three Littorio battleships and two other cruisers are presently at Naples; five other cruisers are in port at Messina and three battleships at Taranto.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 DECEMBER TO DAWN 4 DECEMBER 1942

Weather   Mainly fine; fair.

No air raid alerts.

1030-1215 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1039-1131 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol north of base at 25000 feet: nothing seen.

1440-1525 hrs; 1550-1635 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron at a time on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

Military casualties  Sergeant Everard Aspell, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR), 108 Squadron; Sergeant Ronald Semley, RAF VR, 40 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 3 DECEMBER 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hurricane from Bone; one Beaufighter from Gambut; one DC 3 from El Adem; one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One DC 3 to El Adem.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington’s bombs hung up and exploded while aircraft was taxiing: two of crew killed, rest uninjured.

Hurricanes at Hal Far

Hurricanes at Hal Far

HAL FAR  1150 hrs  One Hurricane RNAS landed from a special mission.  He was attacked 50 miles off Kerkennah by one JU 88.  The enemy aircraft overshot and the Hurricane was able to counter-attack with several short gun bursts: claims one JU 88 damaged.

1840-0010 hrs  One special Albacore and three strike Albacores 821 Squadron were sent to attack enemy shipping off the coast of Sicily.  Two 3000 ton merchant vessels were located 44 miles off Zuara moving at 8 knots.  Both ships were hit by torpedoes and blown up.  1900-2005 hrs  One special Albacore and three strike Albacores 821 Squadron were sent to attack the tanker hit last night and since reported stationary 10 miles west of Marittimo.  The tanker was not located; only two hospital ships were seen in the area.  All torpedoes were brought back.

LUQA No operations.

TA QALI  0835-1330 hrs  Six Beaufighters 227 Squadron on offensive sweep: no sightings.  0835-1145 hrs  Six Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive sweep sighted one JU 88 which is destroyed by F/Lt Rankin and F/O Coate.  0445-1000 hrs  Four Beaufighters 272 Squadron are airborne to act as convoy escort: no sightings.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Battalion provided a working party of 3 Officers and 200 Other Ranks for pen building on Qrendi aerodrome.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Working party provided for administrative and crater-filling duties at Hal Far: four 15 cwt lorries, two impressed lorries, two motor cycles, 16 Other Ranks.

2nd Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Five 1 ton, two 30 cwt, one 3 ton lorries provided for special service Zabbar.  Four 1 ton lorries, one Officer, 78 men on fatigue at Ta Qali.  Three Officers reported daily to APM for traffic duties.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  Personnel engaged on co-operational duties (maintenance, refuelling, arming etc) with RAF at Luqa aerodrome, taken over from 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers.  57 drivers engaged at motor transport sub-depot.

 

4 December 1942: HMS Welshman Arrives Safely

WELSHMAN REPORTS MED QUIET FOR PASSAGE OF PORTCULLIS

HMS Welshman enters Grand Harbour

HMS Welshman enters Grand Harbour

HMS Welshman arrived in Grand Harbour today having left Convoy MW 14 yesterday evening.  The minelayer reported an incident-free passage through the Mediterranean.  Conditions appear favourable for the progress of the convoy.

Force K signalled at daylight that all vessels have joined up safely with Operation Portcullis the convoy and will remain in close escort throughout the day.  The ships are now within reach of Malta aircraft which will mount a constant escort for the remainder of their passage to Grand Harbour.  The arrival of Welshman has already attracted the attention of enemy aircraft which approached the Island on reconnaissance twice, triggering first air raid alerts in three days.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 DECEMBER TO DAWN 5 DECEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair to fine.

0740-1245 hrs  Four Beaufighters 227 Squadron are airborne to act as escort for the approaching convoy (one returned early): no sightings.

1025-1041 hrs  Air raid alert for ten ME 109s which cross the coast over the Grand Harbour area at a height of 25000 feet, apparently on reconnaissance.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne and see five unidentified aircraft making smoke trails north and south of Malta at 28000 feet.  On sighting the Spitfires below them, the enemy raiders turn northwards for home.

1100 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa searches for the friendly convoy.

1400 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron searches in the Cape Bon area.

1440-1610 hrs  One Beaufighter 227 Squadron is airborne to act as escort to the convoy: nothing sighted.

1452-1507 hrs  Air raid alert for three ME 109s which approach the Island at 26000 feet and fly over Grand Harbour.  Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: they see the three ME 109s over Grand Harbour at 22000 feet.  The enemy aircraft dive away over the coast to avoid combat.

1535-1630 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1600-1730 hrs; 1630-1750 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron at a time are airborne to act as escort to the convoy: no sightings.

Night  One air raid alert: aircraft are identified as friendly.

Military casualties  Flight Lieutenant Andrew Breakey, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR), 18 Squadron; Flying Officer Robert Curtis, RAF VR, 81 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Sidney Greene, RAF VR, 18 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Arthur Simpson, RAF VR, 18 Squadron; Sergeant Peter Turner, RAF VR, 81 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 4 DECEMBER 1942

HMS Porpoise arrives Malta (NWMA Malta)

HMS Porpoise arrives Malta (NWMA Malta)

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept HMS Welshman and P 35 in, and Porpoise out to head for refit in the UK via Gibraltar.  Four MTBs arrived from Bone.  Naval aircraft attacked shipping in the Zuara area. Two merchant ships were hit, one of which sank in three minutes; the other was left burning.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Wellington from LG 237; one Beaufighter from Souk El Arba; eight Hudsons, one DC 3 from El Adem; two Hudsons from Gibraltar. Departures  One DC 3 to LG 224; one Hudson to Algiers; eight Hudsons to El Adem.

LUQA  0900 hrs  Six sorties flown by photo-reconnaissance of 69 Squadron.  1930 hrs  One Beaufighter 39 Squadron patrolled over Comiso aerodrome at 32000 feet: no enemy aircraft seen.  1700-2225 hrs  Six Wellingtons 40 Squadron and four 104 Squadron bombed the docks at La Goulette, Tunis.

TA QALI  249 Squadron operating from RAF Qrendi.  Air crew remain attached to Ta Qali for accommodation and rations only.  26 airmen arrived by air from Middle East.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  HMS Welshman arrived No 5 Dock approx 0830 hrs.  Unloading commenced about 0915 hrs.  Bn provided 200 Other Ranks alongside 100 Other Ranks Dorsets.  Cargo was extremely difficult as it contained fifty 21” torpedoes among a miscellaneous cargo. The torpedoes were unloaded last so the whole operation was hampered.  The ship was not cleared until 1900 hrs.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Working party provided for administrative and crater-filling duties at Hal Far: four 15 cwt lorries, two impressed lorries, two motor cycles, 16 Other Ranks.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Floriana Pink Dump and Attard White Dump marked out for reception of convoy cargoes.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  Personnel engaged on maintenance, refuelling, arming etc with RAF at Luqa aerodrome. 63 drivers engaged at motor transport sub-depot.

 

5 December 1942: The Siege of Malta is Lifted

OPERATION PORTCULLIS CONVOY ARRIVES UNMOLESTED

Convoys now have safe passage to Malta under Allied air protection (c) IWM A13678

Convoys now have safe passage to Malta under Allied air protection (c) IWM A13678

At dawn today the four merchant ships Glenartney, Suffolk, Alcoa Prospector and Agwimonte, and the tanker Yorba Linda were safely in the shelter of Grand Harbour.  Commanders of Operation Portcullis report that, in spite of being shadowed at various times during the voyage, they encountered no enemy attacks throughout the entire passage from Alexandria. 

By 10 am the remaining ships of the convoy escort had entered Grand Harbour, bringing the number of warships and merchant vessels in the harbour to over 40. 

Two of the merchant ships are being unloaded by Army personnel and two by civil labour, who are working with great enthusiasm.  Approximately 3200 soldiers are employed on unloading and dispersing the cargoes to dumps.  A further 1800 are assisting the RAF in maintenance of aircraft and airfields to ensure the protection of Malta’s air space and offensive ops during unloading.  However, no attempt was made by the enemy to attack the ships in harbour, or even to approach the Island on reconnaissance during the day.

MALTA’S SUPPLY ROUTES SECURE

The arrival of a tanker with much-needed fuel relieves the concerns of military leaders.  More importantly, the second delivery of food and general supplies in a matter of days brings the chance of a real increase in civilian rations.  This should improve morale and help to stem the decline in the general health of the population which is giving real cause for concern.  The inclusion of a few long absent luxuries among the essentials brought a smile to many faces.

The siege is over but much of Malta lies in ruins

The siege is over but much of Malta lies in ruins

Malta’s commanders are cautiously taking the unhampered passage of Operation Portcullis as an indication that future supplies can be carried through without significant risk.  Since January 1941 two aircraft carriers, twenty warships and several submarines have been lost in attempts to supply the Island.

It has now been decided to run regular pairs of merchant ships for Malta alongside ordinary Western Desert Convoys to the Benghazi area, where surface forces from the Island will reinforce the escort for their final passage.  The supply of Malta – almost impossible a month ago – is now all but secure.  The siege is over.

SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 5 DECEMBER 1942

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

1.  Enemy air: four daylight alerts for enemy fighters on reconnaissance.

2.  Convoy of four merchant vessels and one tanker escorted by cruisers and destroyers arrived safely am 5 December.  Unloading is proceeding well: 3200 Army personnel employed; a further 1800 on aerodromes.

3.  Spitfire bombers successfully attacked aerodromes Comiso, Gela and Biscari.  Spitfire close escort damaged one Macchi 200.  Beaufighters on daylight offensive sweeps area Tunisia destroyed two Cant Z ‘06 and damaged two more at moorings.  One Italian bomber, one transport damaged on the ground.  One JU 88 destroyed; three transports, two fighters damaged in combat.  Coaster 1100 tons, two destroyers, goods trains and lorries effectively shot up.  Merchant vessel 1100 tons set on fire and abandoned.  Two direct hits bombs causing violent explosion merchant vessel off Pantelleria.

Wellington bombers

Wellington bombers

 

By night approx 45 Wellington sorties docks Bizerta 23 sorties docks Tunisia.  Also successful attacks Catania, Trapani, Comiso and Gerbini.  Bombs dropped areas Ragusa, Augusta, Syracuse, Gela and Castel Vetrano.  Beaufighters bombed railways Tunis and shot up trains.   Reggio di Calabria attacked by two Beaufighters.  Beauforts laid mines entrance Bizerta, Tunis and Palermo harbours.  Albacores on shipping strikes sank two merchant vessels 5000 tons, blew up merchant vessel 3000 tons and set two other merchant vessels and a tanker on fire.  Other results unobserved.  Four destroyers Force K sank one enemy TBD.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 DECEMBER TO DAWN 6 DECEMBER 1942

Weather   Cloudy.

No air raid alerts.

0620-0940 hrs  Six aircraft 126 Squadron Luqa maintain a patrol for the arrival of a convoy.

0800-0915 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on standing patrol: no sightings.

0845-1010 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far carry out shipping patrol: nothing seen.

1150-1310 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron on standing patrol over the Island: nothing seen.

1335-1510 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on standing patrol: no sightings.

1455-1550 hrs; 1630-1725 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron on standing patrols over the Island: nothing seen.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer John MacDonald, Royal Australian Air Force; Sergeant Thomas Mincher, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 93 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 5 DECEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hebe swept P 35 to sea. P 42 was swept in from patrol by HM 135.  1600 hrs  HMS Welshman sailed for Alexandria with Paladin.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Halifax from UK; ten Hudsons from El Adem.  Departures  One DC 3 to El Adem; two Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Baltimore overshot aerodrome and crash landed due to engine failure: crew uninjured.  One Wellington crashed into another aircraft while landing: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  2100-0100 hrs  Two Albacores 821 Squadron were despatched to bomb and illuminate for Beaufighters at Reggio di Calabria aerodrome.  One Albacore returned early with rear cockpit trouble; the other arrived too late over the target to contact the Beaufighters but dropped its bombs on the new corner of the aerodrome.

LUQA Four sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires.  1400 hrs  Two Beaufighters 89 Squadron were despatched to attack Reggio Calabria.  One Beaufighter was slightly damaged by Ack Ack splinters: crew unhurt.  Night  One special Wellington carried out a shipping search in the Marittimo-Cavoli area: no sightings.

TA QALI  One senior NCO and four airmen arrived by air from Middle East.  0955-1130 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol: no sightings.  1140-1425 hrs  Three Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive reconnaissance: no sightings.  1345-1640 hrs  Four Beaufighters 227 Squadron (one carrying bombs) on offensive reconnaissance attacked an enemy destroyer causing a small explosion and fire near the bridge.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A convoy arrived at dawn.  1100 hrs  The Bn began unloading the Glenartney at Hamilton Wharf in 3 shifts of 84 Other Ranks.  The vessel is carrying 8000 tons of cargo.  Unloading went well during the day.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  6 Officers, 107 Other Ranks unloading M/V Alcoa Prospector.

Agwimonte

Agwimonte

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  The Bn was detailed to provide: 3 Officers, 42 Other Ranks to report at 1000 hrs for traffic control; 5 fire-fighting parties of 1 Officer, 13 Other Ranks each, to live on board the merchant ships; 42 drivers, 6 vehicles, 3 Officers, 150 Other Ranks as general reserve.  2200 hrs  Fire-fighting parties reported to allotted berths and went on board the following vessels:  Alcoa Prospector, Glenartney, Agwimonte, Suffolk, Yorba Linda.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Arrival of convoy: Bn in position on Pink Dump in two shifts of 12 hours, day and night.  Total employed 14 Officers, 200 Other Ranks on Dump plus 2 Officers, 51 Other Ranks on motor transport sub-depot.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  Personnel engaged on maintenance, refuelling, arming etc with RAF at Luqa aerodrome. 63 drivers engaged at motor transport sub-depot.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 8.  Dealt with: High Explosives 1 x 50kg; anti-personnel bombs 8.

 

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22-28 November 1942: Convoy Brings Only 3 Week Supply as Polio Strikes Malta

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22 November 1942: Malta Troops Stealth Mission to North Africa

ORDERS TO SAIL FOR ‘FRENCH PORT’

HMS Welshman

1st Battalion Durham Light Infantry received orders today to make ready to move tomorrow.  Carrying only fighting-scale equipment, the Battalion are to embark with Royal Engineers and seven detachments of Breda 49mm guns by Welshman and Manxman and one destroyer.  Their destination is top secret, referred to only as ‘a certain port’.

The port in question – believed to be in North Africa – has a population of French, Italian and Maltese, and military planners hope that the British troops will receive a friendly reception.  The plan is to land them from the destroyers’ lifeboats and skiffs instead of the usual military landing craft.  The troops will then aim to persuade the French forces in the port to support the allies, and with their help hold the town until the Battalion could be joined by larger Allied forces advancing on land towards the area.

At 1015 hrs this morning the Commanding Officer of 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry joined a conference at Fortress HQ with captains of the naval ships, Brigade command and Admiral i/c Malta, after which the Battalion’s Platoon Commanders were fully briefed.  Early this evening the CO confirmed that the Battalion was to move in motor transport to the docks at 1230 hrs tomorrow.  Parties were already at the docks and Ordnance Depots, loading up rations, stores and ammunition.

But at 2015 hrs a message was received from the HQ of 4 Brigade cancelling the entire operation.  The reason is as yet unknown.

SUBMARINE DELIVERS THE GOODS

HMS Thrasher

HMS Thrasher arrived in Malta today from Beirut, carrying a cargo of aviation fuel [avgas] as well as stores and passengers.  The submarine’s tanks had been modified to enable her to carry the maximum amount of avgas.  HM Submarine Traveller, which has been similarly adapted and loaded, left Beirut the same day and is expected at Malta tomorrow. The deliveries will help reduce the shortage of the fuel on the Island and keep its air forces operational until a tanker can get through.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 23 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather   Showery.

No air raid alerts.

0610-0700 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far carry out an anti E-boat patrol off the coast of south east Sicily: nothing sighted.  One Spitfire is hit by machine gunfire from a ME 109 and seen to dive into the sea five miles south west of Pachino, leaving no trace.  F/O Maynard is killed.

0625-1715 hrs  Twenty Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are airborne with other squadrons to provide a standing patrol over Malta: no enemy aircraft seen.

0625-0740 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

0720-0825 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron patrol over Malta: nothing sighted.

0815-0930 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

1100-1220 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on patrol: no sightings.

1200-1325 hrs; 1345-1450 hrs; 1440-1540 hrs  Twelve sorties of Spitfires 185 Squadron: nothing sighted.

1500-1620 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 229 Squadron are airborne to act as cover for Spitfire bombers but did not make contact.

1515-1615 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are airborne to act as cover for Spitfires and Beaufighters returning from operations: no sightings.

Military casualties  Lance Corporal James Humphreys, 226 Provost Company, Corps of Military Police; Flying Officer Anthony Maynard, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Vincent Sciberras, age 44.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 22 NOVEMBER 1942

HMS Turbulent (L)

ROYAL NAVY  Thrasher was swept in by Hebe, who then swept Turbulent to sea.  Euryalus and ten Hunts sailed for Port Said.

AIR HQ  A message from the Navy:  “Thank you very much for your signal and for the support your fighters gave us.  To have helped Malta in her gallant battle is a great honour.”

Arrivals  Two Beauforts from Gambut; one Hudson from Gibraltar; four Wellingtons from LG 104.  Departures  One Liberator to LG 224; one Hudson to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed in enemy territory: pilot killed.  One Beaufighter crash-landed on aerodrome: crew injured.  One Beaufighter shot down by anti-aircraft fire: crew seen in dinghy.

LUQA  1200-1315 hrs  Three Spitfire bombers 126 Squadron Luqa, escorted by eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron were dispatched to attack Comiso aerodrome: bombs were observed hitting the runway.  No enemy aircraft were seen: all aircraft returned safely.  A total of 10 Beaufighter sorties on reconnaissance patrols:  one Cant Z 506B, two JU 88s and three SM 82s destroyed; one JU 90, one SM 82 damaged; one Beaufighter missing.

Night  Eight Wellington sorties targeted Bizerta docks.  Attacks were successful but hampered by rain and low cloud.  Five special Wellingtons 69 Squadron carrying torpedoes were sent to attack a 5000 ton motor vessel.  F/Lt Dokersley scored a direct hit amidships.  Four Beaufighters were despatched on a low-flying attack on Palermo: one small fire was started.  One Beaufighter is missing, two damaged.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Convoy unloading progressing well: all cargo should be discharged by Wednesday evening.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Bn continues unloading convoy.  One Officer employed at Red Dump.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Convoy unloading proceeding satisfactorily.  Relief party commences work at Pink Dump to give personnel 24 hours leave.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged on convoy duties with additional 6 Officers, 250 Other Ranks as Brigade reserve.

10th Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Working parties at Pink Dump: A and HQ Coys.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS BOMB DISPOSAL UXB reported 29 October-22 November 172. 

 

23 November 1942: Operation Breastplate

The secret mission which was planned for today involving units from Durham Light Infantry and the Royal Engineers has been revealed as codename ‘Operation Breastplate’.  The project is the brainchild of American military leaders who have requested help from Malta in securing the north-south coastal corridor in Tunisia as part of Operation Torch.  The target port has been named as Sousse.

Lord Gort

Today Welshman was ordered to disembark the army guns, stores, and extra boats which had been loaded for the operation which was called off last night. It is believed that Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief, Lord Gort, has come out against the plan, doubting its potential to succeed.  He is understood to be concerned at the risk to the Malta-based forces, armed with minimum equipment and weakened by months of severely reduced rations.  Lord Gort has counselled deferral, at least until a full convoy arrives and is unloaded safely in Malta, to strengthen the Island’s forces and replace resources taken up by Breastplate.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 24 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather   Cloudy; slight rain afternoon and evening.

No air raid alerts.

0625-0720 hrs; 0715-0820 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron, then four 249 Squadron Ta Qali on standing patrol over the Island: no sightings.  Thick cloud at 6000 feet.

0900-1030 hrs  Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa and four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne for reported incoming raiders which do not approach Malta.

1100-1150 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne to act as cover for returning Spitfires.

1110-1150 hrs  Eight sorties by Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far: nothing sighted.

1230-1335 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are airborne on intercept patrol: no sightings.  One Spitfire develops engine trouble at 6-7000 feet: pilot Sgt Wallace is heard over the radio saying he is bailing out.

1425-1355 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1445-1730 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron search for missing pilot: no sightings.

Military casualties  Sergeant Thomas Catchpole, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR), 114 Squadron; Flight Lieutenant Carl Johnson, RAF VR, 227 Squadron; Flying Officer John Mathias, RAF VR, 114 Squadron; Flying Officer Douglas Truscott, RAF VR, 114 Squadron; Sergeant Thomas Wallace, RAF VR, 229 Squadron; Sergeant Ralph Webb, RAF, 227 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 23 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy swept Traveller in from sea.

AIR HQ  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one DC 3, three Beauforts to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  Four Beaufighters missing from operations: crews missing.  One Beaufighter shot down by enemy: crew missing.  One Swordfish crashed in sea due to engine failure: crew saved.  One Spitfire crashed in sea: pilot missing.

LUQA  Message received from AOC RAF Malta:  “I am very grateful for the kind message of congratulations and thank all ranks Luqa for their loyal and enthusiastic support during the past five months.” 

Heinkel HE 115

0701-1115 hrs  Two sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron covering Messina, and harbours and aerodromes in Tunisia.  Two sorties by Baltimores 69 Squadron for weather reconnaissance Tripoli.  0805-1230 hrs  Four Beaufighters carried out a sweep in the Sousse-Sfax area: one HE 115, one Cant 506 destroyed; one schooner shot up.  1026-1200 hrs  Three Beauforts 39 Squadron escorted by two Beaufighters were dispatched on practice bombing of Lampedusa: results not observed Light Ack Ack was encountered but all aircraft returned safely.

0100-0531 hrs  Three special Wellingtons 69 Squadron on separate shipping search in Cape Bon-Bizerta area.  A special torpedo-carrying Wellington on offensive reconnaissance for shipping in the waters between western Sicily and southern Sardinia found a small merchant vessel, leading two 5000 ton merchant vessels, 88 miles east of Capo Carbonara heading west.  The Wellington made a successful torpedo attack on the leading vessel, scoring a hit amidships.  The merchant vessel was later sunk by gunfire from one of Malta’s submarines.

TA QALI  0805-1230 hrs  Four Beaufighters 272 Squadron on offensive sweep: Sgt Tucknell destroys one HE 115; F/O Coate destroys one Cant.  Visibility poor over the sea with showers; clear over the Island.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  The night shift did extremely well, discharging well over 700 tons.  Total cargo discharged to date (1700 hrs today): 4674 tons.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Convoy duties continue.

1ST Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Re-organisation and re-issue of kit stored [in readiness for aborted mission].  Night  Three Officers and 140 Other Ranks were detailed for a 12 hour shift and worked throughout the night unloading flour from lighters at the docks.  One Sgt and six L/Cpls are reporting daily to the APM Valletta to assist the CMPs Valletta.  One Officer and 50 Other Ranks standing by for crater filling at Qrendi.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Bn provided 8 Officers, 230 Other Ranks unloading M/V Robin Locksley.  One Other Rank attached to 1st Bn Cheshire Regt as extra Tally Clerk.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Convoy work confined to unloading and storing of air force and motor transport petrol. 

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged on convoy duties with additional 6 Officers, 250 Other Ranks as Brigade reserve.

10th ACK ACK BRIGADE  Operation Instruction issued modifying aerodrome barrages for Heavy Ack Ack gun lay-out and to keep runways free from shell splinters while still protecting them.

10th Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Working parties at Pink Dump: A and HQ Coys.

 

24 November 1942: Malta Submarines ‘Torch’ Attacks Leave Axis Ships Ablaze

HMS Porpoise

Three submarines returned to Malta today after successful operations in support of Operation Torch.  HMS Porpoise has just completed a short patrol in the Khoms–Misurata area. Five days ago she she torpedoed and sank a tanker which had been stopped by an aerial torpedo attack the previous day.  At 1016 yesterday, off the Kerkennah Bank, Porpoise launched a gunfire attack on the 730 ton Italian naval auxiliary Giacomo.  The vessel, which was carrying benzene, quickly caught fire and was abandoned. Enemy aircraft interrupted the operation before Porpoise could pick up more than two prisoners.

HMS P 211 (Safari) under Commander B Bryant, DSC returned to Malta from a very successful patrol off the East Tunisian coast in the Gulf of Sirte during which the submarine steamed a total of 2800 miles.  At 1431 hrs on 13 November she gunned and sank the Italian auxiliary brigantine Bice five miles off Sousse. Only the Captain of the Bice was taken prisoner; he was found to be carrying secret papers, including the week’s recognition signals for Italian aircraft and minor war vessels.  The brigantine’s remaining ten survivors were left in their boat and are said to have given P 211 an enthusiastic send off on her departure.

P 211 HMS Safari

Three days later P 211 torpedoed a 2500 ton merchant vessel at Ras el Ali anchorage.  The merchantman blew up in a sheet of flame and was still burning twenty four hours later causing the anchorage to be shut down.  At dawn next morning, P 211 fired a torpedo at a concentration of small vessels near the pier. The torpedo exploded at the landing place and an ammunition lighter blew up.  The same evening the submarine torpedoed and sank a schooner in the south western corner of Marsa el Brega.

In the early morning of 18 November a small light vessel with no crew was sunk by gunfire from the submarine, 10 miles from Ras el Ali. Later that morning, P 211 gunned an enemy tank landing craft (LCT), silencing one of its guns and causing ammunition to explode.  Then two days ago, at 1156 on 22 November, P 211 gunned another LCT two miles south of Ras el Sultan, scoring two hits. After ten minutes, the action was broken off, all ammunition having been expended.

P 247

HMS P 247 (Saracen) was also guided into Malta today, having followed Operation Torch with a patrol of the approaches to Tunis and Bizerta. At 1644 on the 5 November she torpedoed and sank an Italian Cobalto Class U boat at a range of 800 yards. Despite passing through much oil and wreckage; the submarine could find no survivors.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 25 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather   Showery; thunderstorms at night.

0645-0740 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa renewed the search for Sgt Wallace who bailed out yesterday.  Nothing was seen of a dinghy or pilot.

0735-0845 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on a standing patrol to protect shipping in Grand Harbour: no enemy aircraft seen.

0735-1640 hrs  Spitfires of 126 Squadron and other squadrons are airborne on a standing patrol over Grand Harbour: no enemy aircraft seen.

0745-0845 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron search for Sgt Wallace: no sightings.

0825-0930 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on standing patrol: no sightings.

1115-1140 hrs  Air raid alert for 15 ME 109s approaching the Island at a great height: a few cross the coast on a fighter sweep.  Ack Ack fire pointer rounds: no claims.  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: they dive to attack a ME 109 but it gets away.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are also scrambled and turn to chase ME 109s but are jumped by Macchi 202s: no combats.  The remaining enemy raiders are driven off by Spitfires.

1300-1350 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on standing patrol: no sightings.

1335-1440 hrs  Four sorties of Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far: nothing sighted.

1440-1545 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are airborne to act as cover for returning Spitfires: no enemy aircraft sighted.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 24 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P 211, P 247 and Porpoise were swept in by Hythe.

AIR HQ  A total of 18 Wellington sorties: target Bizerta docks.  Due to poor visibility, not all aircraft dropped bombs.  Some bombs were seen to burst in the target area.  Five torpedo-carrying Wellingtons on enemy shipping search: one merchant vessel was hit and seen to be down by the stern.  Arrivals  Two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Beaufighter, two Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufighter failed to return from operations: crew missing.

HAL FAR  0910-1020 hrs; 0920-1045 hrs; 1145-1305 hrs  12 sorties of Spitfires 185 Squadron, including an intruder raid over Lampedusa and a fighter sweep of Comiso area: nothing seen.

Malta bombers attack Sicilian airfield (c) IWM MH8054

LUQA  0700-1635 hrs  Four sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron covering harbours at Naples, Messina, Palermo and Cagliari.  Night  One special Wellington 69 Squadron despatched on shipping search in Cavoli-Marittimo area: nothing of importance to report.

TA QALI  0750-1155 hrs  Four Beaufighters 272 Squadron carried out offensive reconnaissance of the Gulf of Tripoli: W/Cdr Buchanan destroyed one JU 52 and at least ten khaki-clad figures were seen in the water.  1300-1605 hrs  Three Beaufighters 272 Squadron carried out an offensive sweep: F/O Coate destroyed one BV 222 and damaged one DO 24.  1420-1525 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali carried out a bombing sweep of Gela aerodrome.  Bad weather prevents all but one of the Spitfires from releasing bombs on target.  Explosions are not seen due to heavy cloud at 5000 feet.

Night  Five Beaufighters carrying bombs attacked docks at Palermo.  Only one aircraft located the target due to bad weather: no results observed.  One aircraft is missing.  Four Beauforts made two sorties and laid mines in enemy waters.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Great difficulty is being experienced unloading the 100 Octane petrol.  The fumes are very bad and men can only work for a short time in the hold.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Convoy duties continue.

1ST Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  42 drivers reported to sub-depots for convoy duties.  A detail of 40 men were sent to Brown Dump for a 12 hour shift and afterwards 20 were maintained there by D Company as unloading party till 1200 hrs on 26th.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  10 Officers, 232 Other Ranks unloading M/V Robin Locksley.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  All dumps still reduced in activity as priority given to unloading of petrol from convoy.  Commodities from dumps being removed to RASC and civilian stores.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged on convoy duties with additional 6 Officers, 250 Other Ranks as Brigade reserve.

10th Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Working parties at Pink Dump: A and HQ Coys.

 

25 November 1942: British and US Military Chiefs Meet in Malta

Air Chief Marshal A W Tedder, KCB, two American Generals P W Timberlake and L H Brereton of the US Army Middle East Air Force, and the DMI Middle East Brigadier Airey arrived in Malta today en route for Algiers.  Air Officer Commanding Malta, Air Vice-Marshal Park, will be leaving with them early tomorrow morning for a one-day conference.

HMS Utmost

At noon today the Italian Press claimed the destruction of a British submarine. It is believed Utmost was spotted in moonlight while still on the surface by patrolling Italian shipping.  Her sinking has been claimed by the Italian torpedo boat Groppo, which located the submarine below the surface early this morning heading  towards Malta, and launched depth charges.  There were no survivors.

Lieutenant Coombe had only recently taken command of Utmost, which destroyed almost 70000 tons of shipping under its previous Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander R D Cayley, DSO, DSC, RN.

Utmost crew celebrate former success (c) IWM

WAR OFFICE CHECKS STATE OF MALTA RATIONS AFTER STONEAGE CONVOY

From:  The War Office                To:  Commander Malta

Cable firstly daily ration scales civil and military immediately prior arrival Stoneage.  Secondly amendments proposed as a result of increased stocks.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 26 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather   Mainly fair; showers in the evening.

0625-0700 hrs  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are airborne for protection of an incoming convoy: no enemy aircraft seen.

0700-0815 hrs  Six Spitfires 229 Squadron on standing patrol: no sightings.

0800-1650 hrs  22 Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa and other squadrons are airborne to maintain a standing patrol over Malta: no enemy aircraft seen.

1055-1113 hrs  Air raid alert for a number of enemy fighters approaching the Island.  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and see about 15 raiders.  One of the Spitfires does not return: F/Lt Burgess is reported missing.  Four Spitfires of 229 and 249 Squadrons are also scrambled.  Spitfires of 249 Squadron dive from 29000 feet and damage one ME 109.  None of the enemy aircraft cross the coast.

1405-1520 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron carry out a diversionary sweep: they see five Macchi 202 fighters but cannot engage.

1500-1600 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron on standing patrol over the Island.  One crash landed with undercarriage trouble: pilot unhurt.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 25 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  The Vice Admiral, Malta, reported that the unloading of the four merchant ships of Stoneage had been completed.  MLC 511 carried out exercises with the Army in Comino Channel.  Rye swept P 212 in from the sea.  Hythe swept Thrasher out: she sailed for Gibraltar and thence for refit in the UK.  Manxman sailed for Algiers, for minelaying operations under the orders of the Naval Commander, Expeditionary Force.

Fortress B17E

AIR HQ  17 Spitfires (9 carrying bombs) attacked Gela aerodrome: explosions were seen in dispersal areas and among buildings.  Arrivals  One Fortress from Heliopolis; fifteen Beaufighters from Gambut; eleven Wellingtons from Shallufa via Gambut.  Departures  Five Beauforts to ECDU.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire failed to return from operations: pilot missing.

HAL FAR  1035-1140 hrs  Eight sorties of Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far for attack on Gela aerodrome – four with bombs and four to act as close escort: one hit recorded.

LUQA  Four sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron.  0055-0259 hrs  Eight Wellingtons made an attack on Tunis docks.   Flares and bombs were dropped and a large fire started which was reported to be burning furiously.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Only five gangs required to work today.  The job should be finished by the night shif.  The difficulty unloading 100 Octane petrol is slowing up proceedings.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  0800 hrs   Working party unloading SS Robin Locksley completed duties.  Other convoy duties continue.

1ST Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  One Sergeant and 27 Other Ranks detailed to brown dump for guard duties.

SS Robin Locksley

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Bn provided 10 Officers, 232 Other Ranks unloading M/V Robin Locksley1600 hrs  Unloading completed: 7351 tons unloaded in 127 hours.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged on convoy duties with additional 6 Officers, 250 Other Ranks as Brigade reserve.

10th Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Working parties at Pink Dump: A and HQ Coys.

26 November 1942: Convoy Supplies Enough For Three Weeks

MALTA STILL UNDER SIEGE

The unloading of last Friday’s convoy MW 12 and distribution of stores to safe keeping was completed today, bringing some relief to the besieged Island of Malta.  The first priority was to supply sufficient aviation spirit for aircraft to continue defensive and offensive operations, and that has been achieved.

HMS Clyde

Fuel stocks are now greatly improved compared to the beginning of November when supplies were at a very low ebb.  Interim deliveries of aviation fuel by submarines Clyde, Parthian, Traveller and Thrasher from Beirut provided just enough for Malta’s fighters to stay airborne and protect the Allied convoy from the east.

The next urgent requirement for Malta is food. The Island’s siege rations are currently expected to be exhausted by the middle of December. Manxman’s delivery of 300 tons of concentrated foodstuffs helped to relieve a critical situation before the convoy arrived.  But even with the safe stockpiling of cargoes from Robin Locksley, Denbighshire, Mormacmoon and Bantam, only a small increase in rations is possible.  Further significant supplies will be needed before Malta’s population can be properly fed.

Operation Stoneage has proved that passage to Malta through the Mediterranean is still not without risk.  Enemy aircraft managed to launch attacks, one causing serious damage the cruiser Arethusa, with the loss of 159 men.  Malta’s air forces are now better placed to keep the Mediterranean open for future convoys.  But until safe passage can be secured, Malta remains under siege.

Merchant ship Denbighshire

CARGO SHIP BLAZE

A fire broke out at 1.45 this afternoon on board Denbighshire in Grand Harbour. The blaze is believed to have started when petrol fumes ignited in the empty No 2 Hold.  All available ship’s fire-fighting equipment was immediately brought into use, assisted by shore appliances.  The fire was brought under control by 4.30 pm but not before it had caused extensive damage.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 27 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather   Heavy rain mid-morning, becoming fair.

0655-1515 hrs  12 Spitfires 126 Squadron and 1435 Squadron Luqa patrol the Island protecting shipping in Grand Harbour.

1000-1020 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept approaching unidentified aircraft: plot proves to be friendly.

1125-1205 hrs  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron are scrambled to intercept a reported enemy raid which does not approach Malta.

2310-2320 hrs  Air raid alert: aircraft identified as friendly.

0326-0624 hrs  One Albacore searches for the crew of a missing Wellington: nothing sighted.

0510 hrs  Three Baltimores were despatched to try and locate friendly naval units and to search for the Wellington’s dinghy.

Military casualties  Flying Officer Kenneth Cope, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR), 104 Squadron; Flying Officer Royston Giles, RAF VR, 225 Squadron; Pilot Officer William Goulding, RAF VR, 242 Squadron; Sergeant Joseph Watling, RAF VR, 242 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Mary Tonna, age 60.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 26 NOVEMBER 1942

P 45 enters Grand Harbour

ROYAL NAVY  P 45 and P 48 sailed, swept out by Speedy.

AIR HQ  0757-1305 hrs  Six Beaufighters carried out offensive sweeps in the Gulf of Tripoli: one JU 52 destroyed and a schooner shot up.  One Beaufighter was damaged.  Night  Considerable enemy shipping was again active between Sicily and Tunisia.  Two Wellingtons and five Beauforts were out but the weather was very unfavourable and although three torpedoes were dropped no hits were observed.  Bad weather prevented operations over Tunisi; Gerbini was targeted instead.  A total of 12 Wellingtons attacked Gerbini aerodrome: many hits on the target area causing one fire.  Photographs show many craters on the landing area, including one made by a 4000 lb bomb on the edge of the runway.

Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar; two Wellingtons from LG 104.  Departures  One Fortress, six Beaufighters to Algiers; one Wellington to LG 104.  Aircraft casualties  One Baltimore struck a vehicle on landing: crew uninjured.  One Wellington failed to return from operations: crew missing.

LUQA  Five sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron covering harbours in Italy and Sicily.  1945-2328 hrs  Five Wellingtons 104 Squadron were despatched to attack Gerbini aerodrome.  Bombs were dropped and fires started in the north west corner of the aerodrome.  All aircraft returned safely.  2110-2230 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron on patrol over Sicily arbited to the south of Catania observing fires on Gerbini aerodrome at 2130 hrs and a large explosion in the centre of the airfield.  Accurate heavy Ack Ack was encountered. 

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Unloading finished by 0800 hrs this morning.  30 men clearing up the ships, which took all day.

Mormacmoon in New York

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1745 hrs  Party employed unloading SS Mormacmoon completed duties.  Other convoy duties continue.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Activity at dumps slackening.  Foodstuffs being cleared from dump to RASC stores.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged on convoy duties with additional 6 Officers, 250 Other Ranks as Brigade reserve.

10th Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Working parties at Pink Dump: A and HQ Coys.

24 FORTRESS COMPANY ROYAL ENGINEERS  Lt Johnson and 35 Other Ranks proceeded to Qrendi for work on fighter pens.

 

27 November 1942: Polio Outbreak in Malta

Army medical services have reported an outbreak of poliomyelitis in Malta.  The highly infectious virus was diagnosed today in a serviceman in one of the Island’s military hospitals.   The diagnosis confirms suspicions of at least two other cases since 15 November, including one on Gozo.  Malta has just one iron lung, the apparatus used to assist patients with the severe respiratory difficulties caused by the disease.

Polio has been identified in Malta before but the number of cases has never reached epidemic proportions.  However, there are particular concerns with the present outbreak, with the increased risk of spread between civilians crowded into air raid shelters and temporary accommodation.

FORCE K ARRIVES

HMS Cleopatra

Force K steamed into Grand Harbour this afternoon, under the protection of Malta Spitfires.  Under Rear Admiral Commanding, Fifteenth Cruiser Squadron – three cruisers Cleopatra, Dido and Euryalus, with Fleet destroyers Jervis, Javelin, Kelvin and Nubian – experienced no air attacks during their passage from Alexandria to Malta.  Grand Harbour is now full of ships – a sight the Islanders have not witnessed for many months.

In view of Force K’s safe passage it has been decided to send Motor Torpedo Boats to Malta as soon as the weather allows.  They will be moved to Benghazi as soon as possible, to be ready at short notice to make the crossing.  In the meantime, two MTBs will remain at Ras el Hillal to act as a striking force against any enemy shipping attempting to reach Tripoli by the Eastern Route.

Motor Torpedo Boats at Manoel (c) IWM A14545

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 28 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather   Slight showers morning, otherwise fair.

0615-1010 hrs  Four Beaufighters 227 Squadron Ta Qali airborne to act as escort to naval units: visibility good – no sightings.

0634-0810 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far continue search for crew of missing Wellington: nothing found.

0750-0905 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on search: nothing sighted.

1030-1150 hrs; 1115-1225 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron, then four Spitfires 185 Squadron are airborne to act as escort for HM ships.

1145-1240 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron on escort patrol, followed by standing patrol over the harbour.

1355-1455 hrs  Spitfires 1435 Squadron and 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne with four of 229 Squadron to act as escort to an outgoing naval unit: no enemy aircraft seen.

1355-1500 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are airborne to act as escort to a minelayer: nothing sighted.

1430 hrs  Three cruisers and four destroyers arrive in Grand Harbour as Force K, under the command of Rear Admiral Power.  Four Spitfires, ten long-range Spitfires and twenty-five short-range Spitfires provided continuous protection for the convoy for the last 75 miles of its voyage to Malta.

1435-1550 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on standing patrol: no sightings.

1520-1705 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne to act as escort to naval units: no sightings.

1632-1657 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy aircraft which approach to within 10 miles north west of Gozo.  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and patrol between 2500 and 10000 feet: the raiders turn back before reaching Malta.

1652-1657 hrs  Air raid alert for several enemy aircraft which approach to within ten miles north east of Gozo.

2051-2012 hrs  Air raid alert: aircraft identified as friendly.

Military casualties  Flying Officer William Guilfoyle, RAF VR, 93 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 27 NOVEMBER 1942

HMS Upholder

ROYAL NAVY  P 37 sailed, swept out by Speedy.  Manxman sailed for Alexandria en route to Haifa.  HMS Welshman was sailed for Alexandria and Haifa to collect submarine torpedoes which are urgently required.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Beaufighters from LG 104; one Hudson from Gibraltar; one Wellington from LG 109; one Wellington from LG 224.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar.

LUQA  14 Officers, 25 Senior NCOs and 134 Other Ranks 227 Squadron arrived for operations.  0600-1700 hrs  Five sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron covering harbours of Italy and Sicily.  1916-2358 hrs  Six Beauforts 39 Squadron were despatched to lay mines in the approaches to Bizerta harbour: all returned safely.  14 Wellingtons 40 and 104 Squadrons were despatched to attack the docks at Bizerta.  Bombs were dropped from 4000-6000 feet and a good-sized fire started in the area of the iron ore wharf.  Night  One Beaufort found a convoy of three merchant vessels and one destroyer, 37 miles west of Marittimo.  A torpedo was aimed at one merchant vessel but a heavy sea mist made it impossible to see the results.

TA QALI  0950-1435 hrs  Four Beaufighters 272 Squadron carried out an offensive sweep between Zarzis and Cape Bon: W/Cdr Buchanan destroyed one JU 88 and damaged one ME 110.  Visibility good.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Broken Case Store Party completed duties.  Other unloading duties continue.

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged on convoy duties with additional 6 Officers, 250 Other Ranks as Brigade reserve.

 

28 November 1942: Breastplate Back On

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

The special mission by Malta troops to Sousse in French North Africa was reinstated today, as units were ordered to prepare for embarkation.  All guards and working parties of 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry have been on 8 hours’ notice of departure since yesterday and are busy packing the minimum kit allowed for the journey.

The embarkation force will now include one troop of Field Gunners, one of Bofors Gunners, one detachment each of Royal Engineers and Royal Army Service Corps, another of the Royal Army Pay Corps, and Commandos. The mission plans have also been amended to include several transport vehicles.  All stores, vehicles and kit bags are to be loaded onto the M/V Melbourne Star by 0300 hrs, leaving only the Army personnel, ammunition and seven days’ rations to be added immediately before departure.

TOP SECRET TELEGRAM

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

1.  During the month ended 20th November there were 59 alerts: 45 by day and 14 by night.  33 bombing raids: 28 by day and 5 by night.  33 people were killed (12 men, 11 women, 10 children).  16 were seriously injured (7 men, 2 women, 7 children).  29 buildings were seriously damaged.

2.  The breaking up by the RAF of what threatened to be a serious aerial bombardment in the last 10 days of October, the news from North Africa, and the arrival of a convoy of four ships including two United States vessels and one Netherlands on the last day of the period under review, added buoyancy to an already high morale.  The public is proud that Malta is hitting back and bearing a part in the stirring events of this new phase of the war.

3.  His Majesty’s Government’s gift of £10,000,000 [to Malta] is widely appreciated and acclaimed.

MALTA SPY HANGED

Carmelo Borg Pisani, convicted of crimes against the Government and sentenced on 19 November, was hanged early this morning at Corradino Civil Prison.  He had appealed unsuccessfully for clemency.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 29 NOVEMBER 1942

Weather   Slight showers morning, becoming fair to cloudy.

0730-0820 hrs  Four Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are airborne to fly south of Comiso, searching for signs of the Spitfire of F/Lt Burgess, missing since 25 November: no wreckage is seen.

1305 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne to cover the return of 185 Squadron from attacking Gela aerodrome.

1415-1500 hrs  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron search for a missing Spitfire: nothing seen.

1430 hrs  An anti-personnel mine explodes near Dock 3 badly injuring a Maltese civilian, whose leg is blown off. 

Night  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron is airborne on intercept patrol over the Island: no enemy aircraft seen.

Military casualties  Warrant Officer Class II George Edwards, Royal Canadian Air Force, 249 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 28 NOVEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  HMS Thunderbolt arrived at Malta to join the Tenth Submarine Flotilla for Special Operations. She had sailed from the United Kingdom direct to Malta, making the passage in eighteen days.  Thunderbolt was swept in by Rye, who subsequently swept P 43 and Traveller to sea.

Axis aircraft on Gela aerodrome

AIR HQ  A total of 22 Spitfires including eight carrying bombs attacked Gela and Comiso aerodromes: bombs were dropped on the dispersal areas.  The escorting fighters damaged two JU 52s.  Two Beaufighters on a sweep along the Tunisian coast from Sousse to Zuara destroyed one CR 42.  Other Beaufighters on various patrols destroyed two SM 79s.  One JU 52 was destroyed on the ground and various targets shot up.  Two Wellingtons bombed the docks at Tunis as a diversion during a mining operation carried out by Beauforts.

Arrivals  Two DC 3 from El Adem; one Liberator from LG 224.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; two Wellingtons to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed in the sea: pilot missing.  One Beaufighter failed to return from operations: crew missing.

HAL FAR  1105-1230 hrs  12 Spitfires 185 Squadron, four carrying bombs, attacked Gela aerodrome.  Explosions were seen in the south eastern dispersal area.  Sgt Houlton sighted a formation of nine JU 52s just off the coast of Sicily and damaged two of them.  1800-2235 hrs  One Swordfish and three Albacores RNAS searched for shipping in the Straits of Messina: mission abortive.

LUQA  0630-1640 hrs  Five sorties by photo-reconnaissance Spitfires 69 Squadron covering harbours and aerodromes in Sicily and Italy.  Three Baltimores 69 Squadron carried out weather reconnaissance.  2145 hrs  Eight Beauforts 39 Squadron were despatched to lay mines in the entrance of Tunis harbour: all aircraft returned safely.  Eleven Wellingtons 104 and 40 Squadrons were despatched to attack Bizerta docks in two waves: bombs were seen to burst well within the target area.

Baltimore serviced at Luqa (c) IWM GM1027

Night  A photo-reconnaissance Spitfire having sighted a convoy consisting of one 4-5000 ton tanker and one 4-5000 ton merchant vessel rounding Cape Spartivento westwards, two torpedo-carrying Wellingtons were despatched to attack.  One Wellington found and attacked the convoy five miles north of Capo Orlando, in a heavy rainstorm, but the torpedo appeared to run astern of the target.

TA QALI  0635-1050 hrs  Two Beaufighters 227 Squadron despatched on operation to bomb shipping in the Sicilian channel: F/Lt Schmidt destroyed one CR 42.  1005-1415 hrs; 1400-1630 hrs  Two Beaufighters 227 Squadron at a time on offensive sweep: nothing sighted.  1300-1650 hrs  Two Beaufighters 272 Squadron on bombing mission and offensive sweep: F/Lt Rankin damages one SM 79.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working party 1 Officer, 25 Other Ranks C Coy and 25 A Coy required to clear part of Floriana Parade Ground to make a dump for goods from the convoy.  Task will last about 5 days.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Convoy duties continue.  1 NCO, 4 men with mobile Breda gun attached to 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Breda gun and crew from GP6 report to 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry at Cammerata Barracks.  Dumps given order to close down as soon as clear of all goods (completed 1715 hrs): personnel return to Coy lines.  Motor-transport sub-depot Gzira party remain in position.  Guard remaining on Brown Dump (petrol).

4th Bn THE BUFFS  77 motor transport drivers, six 15 cwt and one 3 ton truck engaged at sub-depot.

 

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

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25 October 1942:  Enemy Air Attacks Declining

JU 88 bombers have gone from Malta’s skies

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

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

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

RAIDS DAWN 25 OCTOBER TO DAWN 26 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Mainly fine: fair late evening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1300 hrs  Raiders passed.

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

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

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

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

1620 hrs  All clear.

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

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

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

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

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

Civilian casualties  Nil.

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 25 OCTOBER 1942

P 35 HMS Umbra

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

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

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

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

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

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

26 October 1942: Malta Bombers Back On The Attack

Wellington bomber

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 OCTOBER TO DAWN 27 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Showery.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Night  No air raids.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

HMS Hebe

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 26 OCTOBER 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

British troops on the move in North Africa

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

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

QRENDI STRIP DEVELOPS

Troops building aircraft pens

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 OCTOBER TO DAWN 28 OCTOBER 1942

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

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

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

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

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

Night  No air raids.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 27 OCTOBER 1942

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

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

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

28 October 1942: Operation Train Brings Reinforcements

HMS Furious

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

ATTACK ON SUBMARINE BASE KILLS THREE

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

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

HMS Welshman

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

MALTA WELLINGTONS SINK ANOTHER AXIS TANKER

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

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 OCTOBER TO DAWN 29 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Fine; cloudy late evening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Military casualties  Chargeman E Wright, HM Dockyard.

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 28 OCTOBER 1942

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

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

29 October 1942: German Pilots Sick of Fight For Malta

German aircraft losses dent morale (c) IWM CM 745

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

SPITFIRES AND SUPPLIES

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

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

MALTA FLOTILLA GRABS 100TH MINE

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 OCTOBER TO DAWN 30 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Fine; almost cloudless.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Civilian casualties  Naxxar  Emanuel Grech, age 52.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 29 OCTOBER 1942

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

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

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

B flight RAF 249 Squadron Malta July 42

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

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

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

AMMUNITION USE AND FUEL RATIONING TIGHTENED

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 OCTOBER TO DAWN 31 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Variable becoming fine: cloudless evening.

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

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

Night  No air raids.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

HMS Rorqual

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 30 OCTOBER 1942

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

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Liberators from Gibraltar.

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

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

31 October 1942: 14 Attacks On Axis Convoys

AIR RAID STATISTICS OCTOBER 1942  

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

    P 246 HMS Statesman

ROYAL NAVY SUMMARY FOR OCTOBER

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

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

SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING OCTOBER 31

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

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

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

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

4.  Military damage negligible.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 OCTOBER TO DAWN 1 NOVEMBER 1942

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

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

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

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

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 31 OCTOBER 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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18-24 October 1942: Malta Key to El Alamein Offensive

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“The rugged and indomitable courage of the people of Malta have been an inspiration and encouragement to the Empire.”  Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet Admiral Sir John Tovey announcing a gift of £1755 from the Home Fleet to the Malta Relief Fund

18 October 1942: Petrol Running Out

Troops use cycles to save petrol (NWMA Malta)

Military chiefs met today in Valletta to discuss how to manage the rapidly decreasing fuel supplies on the Island.  Officers from all Army units were called to attend a Petrol Economy Conference held at the Castille.  With no immediate prospect of a convoy reaching Malta, the conference focused on ways of rationing fuel use in order to conserve existing stocks.  All possible methods of saving petrol were discussed and several measures decided on, which will be put into operation immediately.

THREE AXIS SUPPLY SHIPS HIT IN RAF AND NAVY ATTACKS

This afternoon a photo-reconnaissance Spitfire sighted two merchant vessels with a 5-6000 ton tanker and one 3-4000 ton merchant vessel with seven destroyers to the west of Sicily, heading southwards.  Two Swordfish and one Albacore aircraft were despatched to make a night attack but failed to locate the primary target.  They came upon a single merchant vessel of 4-5000 tons 40 miles north west of Pantelleria and attacked with a single torpedo, scoring a direct hit on the stern.  The merchantman was last seen down by the stern and going round in circles.

Reconnaissance aircraft also spotted the merchant vessel which was attacked last Wednesday night, beached near Homs.  A Swordfish and an Albacore were despatched to make another attack.  The Albacore launched one torpedo by the light of flares dropped by the Swordfish but bad visibility prevented the observation of results.

In another offensive mission tonight, four Wellingtons of 69 Squadron Luqa were despatched to attack an 8000 ton tanker escorted by two destroyers, 50 miles east of Point Stilo.  Three Wellingtons found the convoy and attacked, one torpedo hitting the tanker’s port bow and causing a red flash.  Four 500 lb and two 1000 lb bombs were also dropped but the results were not observed.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 OCTOBER TO DAWN 19 OCTOBER 1942

Weather   Fog over the sea in the morning; light showers morning and evening.

0622-1010 hrs  Two Hurricanes Royal Navy Air Service search off Grand Harbour for a missing dinghy but find nothing.

0701-0738 hrs  Air raid alert for about 50 enemy fighters approaching the Island, escorting seven bombers.  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept.  Six ME 109s engage them, splitting up the Squadron formation.  P/O Reid probably destroys one ME 109.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled to intercept: F/Sgt Mortimer (126 Squadron) destroys one ME 109.  The enemy bombers turn back while still 15 miles north of the Island and only the fighters come near, some crossing the coast.  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali attempt to intercept the fighters, which evade combat.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat: pilot unhurt.

1006-1106 hrs  Air raid alert for 35 enemy fighters including a four bomb-carrying ME 109s approaching the Island.  The raid probably includes some JU 88s which turn back before reaching Malta.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa, eight Spitfires Hal Far and seven of 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept but do not engage the enemy.  Three ME 109s drop six high explosive bombs on Ta Qali aerodrome.

1124-1158 hrs  Air raid alert for an approaching formation of 15 enemy fighters and fighter bombers.  Seven Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  Bombs are dropped on Luqa, Ta Salib and San Christu Church area.  Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1335-1430 hrs  Air raid alert for 20 plus enemy fighters and fighter bombers which approach the Island but do not cross the coast.  Six Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and attack two ME 109s: S/Ldr Stephens damages one.  There are reports that the fighter bombers break off and return home before reaching Malta.

1547-1701 hrs  Air raid alert for 75 plus enemy fighters including some fighter bombers which cross the coast in small groups.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron and eight 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: Sgt Hamilton 1435 Squadron damages one ME 109.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far, plus four 229 Squadron and eight of 249 Squadron Ta Qali are also scrambled but do not engage.  Bombs are dropped on Gharghur and Qrendi strip, and on Luqa, damaging one Wellington on the ground.  Ack Ack fire: no claims.  One Spitfire of 126 Squadron crashes in a field near Gharghur: the pilot P/O Stevenson is killed.

1836-1936 hrs; 2101-2124 hrs; 2227-2258 hrs; 2347-0027 hrs; 0144-0312 hrs; 0350-0450 hrs  Air raid alerts for a total of 12 enemy bombers of which 9 cross the coast.  Anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries are dropped on Qawra Point, Birkirkara, Hamrun, the Dockyard and Floriana, and in the sea.  Two civilians are killed and three injured in Fleur de Lys.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.  HQ Company and billets of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment are sprayed with anti-personnel bombs.  Three Beaufighters 89 Squadron are airborne on intercept patrols. One Beaufighter sights an enemy aircraft which takes evasive action and escapes.  One Beaufighter on patrol over Sicily attacks and damages a JU 88 over Gerbini.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer James Stevenson, Royal Canadian Air Force, 126 Squadron, RAF.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Anthony Camilleri, age 40; Carmela Gatt, age 45; Paul Parlar, age 62; Doris Spiteri, age 8; Maria Carmela Spiteri, age 6; George Zammit, age 8.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 18 OCTOBER 1942

P 211 HMS Safari

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy swept P 211 to sea.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar; one Liberator from LG 224.  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar; one DC3 to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire damaged in combat crash-landed: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire crashed: pilot killed.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Spitfire was despatched on a search for enemy shipping from Messina to Cape Rizzuto.  One Baltimore was despatched to search for enemy shipping off the Greek coast.  One Spitfire was despatched on search for enemy shipping Cape Spartevento to Cape Rizzo.  One Spitfire was despatched on photo-reconnaissance of Sicilian harbours and aerodromes.

10th HEAVY ACKACK REGIMENT, ROYAL ARTILLERY  2/Lt W J Healy was wounded in action at XHE 25.

10th Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  D Company takes over guard duties of Wardia crossroads.

19 October 1942: Booby-Trapped Cluster Bombs on Malta

Butterfly bomb

A Sapper of Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal narrowly escaped being blown up today when he encountered a new type of anti-personnel bomb.  The Bomb Disposal Section was called out to deal with a number of unexploded German 2kg ‘butterfly’ bombs which have become all too familiar across the Island since June.  The Sapper was following normal procedure to check whether or not the bomb was armed when he noted the fuze number which was 67, instead of the normal 41.  Instead of going ahead and dealing with the bomb, he withdrew and reported the different fuze number to his Sergeant.

The action would save his life and those of his squad.  The Type 67 is a delayed-action fuze: it can be set to blow the bomb at any time from five to thirty minutes after it falls.  The bomb can kill up to 25 metres away and injure anyone within 150 metres.  Although in this case the maximum time had passed, like any clockwork mechanism, if this one had merely jammed any movement could restart the clock – and then there is no way of knowing how long it has left to run.

From now on, butterfly bombs can no longer be considered relatively harmless if left undisturbed.  Any number of them might explode at random, triggering others within range.  The public has been told about the new hazard and warned to stay well clear of any suspect objects.  With at least thirty reports of unexploded butterfly bombs today alone across civilian and military areas, the RE Bomb Disposal Section is now facing the more complex job of clearing hundreds of potential time bombs.

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

AXIS CONVOY CANNOT ESCAPE MALTA-BASED ATTACKS

The convoy intended for attack by Swordfish and Albacore aircraft last night was again located and photographed this morning by a reconnaissance Spitfire from Malta, 35 miles north west of Lampedusa.

Despite very bad weather, two Swordfish and two Albacores were despatched tonight to attempt another attack.  At 2210 hours they located two merchant vessels and five destroyers which had now reached 53 miles south of Lampedusa.  One Swordfish dropped flares allowing the others to launch three torpedoes.  At least one scored a hit on a merchant vessel, producing a flash and a thick cloud of smoke which obscured the results of the other three missiles.

An hour later four Wellingtons found two merchant vessels and three destroyers some 50 miles south of Lampion and attacked with bombs and torpedoes.  At least one 1000 lb bomb scored a hit on a merchantman.  Then at 0328 hours two Swordfish and two Albacores located the tanker and three destroyers, 80 miles north west of Tripoli.  Of two torpedoes fired at the convoy, one was seen to hit the tanker, producing a large green flash.

During the night three more sorties were made by Wellingtons, one dropping two 1000 lb bombs near the merchant ship which had been attacked by Swordfish hours before and was now stationary.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 OCTOBER TO DAWN 20 OCTOBER 1942

Weather   Frequent showers throughout the day, heavy at times during the morning.  Lightning very early.

0622-0730 hrs  One Hurricane Hal Far on a search: nothing seen.

0623-0652 hrs  Air raid alert for 15 plus ME 109 fighter bombers approaching the Island.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: F/Sgt Scott damages one ME 109.  The remaining fighter bombers cross the coast.  Two ME 109s dive on Hal Far airfield and drop bombs damaging two Hurricane aircraft on the ground.  The runway remains serviceable but 160 gallons of petrol are burned out in a pen.  Ack Ack fire: no claims.

0726-0807 hrs  Air raid alert for 25 enemy fighters which cross the coast on a high sweep.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds: no claims.  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept and see six ME 109s to the south of the Island: the enemy evade combat and flee back to base.

0825-1010 hrs  One Hurricane Hal Far searches for a missing pilot, five miles east of Zonqor, north of Grand Harbour and over St Paul’s Bay 20 miles: nothing seen.

0957-1018 hrs  Air raid alert.  40 plus Italian fighters and ME 109 fighter bombers are reported heading for Malta.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron and seven 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept.  P/O Walton probably destroys one Re 2001.  Eight Spitfires are also scrambled from Hal Far but do not engage.  The raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on the Gharghur area and on Salina Bay between the Salt Pans and Salina Battery.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1031-1044 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy fighters cross the coast at great height, apparently on reconnaissance.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1200-1217 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 plus enemy fighters including fighter bombers.  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and attempt to engage four ME 109 fighter bombers: no claims.  Fighter bombers cross the coast and drop bombs on Ta Qali.

1322-1342 hrs  Air raid alert for 20 enemy fighters including fighter bombers which come in and drop bombs on Attard.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are airborne and engage the raiders: Capt Kuhlmann and Sgt Gunstone each damage one ME 109.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat and crash-lands: pilot unhurt.

1457-1527 hrs  Air raid alert for 40 enemy fighters including several fighter bombers heading for the Island.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa, plus four of 229 Squadron and seven of 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept but the enemy turn away into cloud cover and evade engagement.  Several raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on Mosta.

1653-1742 hrs  Air raid alert for 40 enemy fighters including ME 109 fighter bombers which drop bombs on the Luqa area and near Mqabba.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far plus four Spitfires 229 Squadron and three of 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept: the enemy is sighted on several occasions but make use of clouds to evade engagement.

1759-1852 hrs  Air raid alert for an attempted dusk raid by 40 enemy bombers and fighter-bombers which approach the Island in two formations.  Two Beaufighters 89 Squadron Luqa with three Spitfires are scrambled to intercept.  One formation is engaged 25 miles west of the Island by three Malta aircraft which force the bombers to jettison their bombs in the sea.  The same three fighters then intercept the other formation to the east of the Island forcing several to jettison bombs.  Only three bombers cross the coast: one JU 88 is pursued by F/Lt Pring of 89 Squadron and destroyed.  Bombs are dropped on Luqa and Hal Far aerodromes; delayed action bombs high explosive bombs land near Bir Miftuh Church.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

2115 hrs  There is an unconfirmed RDF report of a vessel 063 degrees 13 miles from Fort St Elmo, moving 30 at knots from west to east.

0225-0235 hrs  Air raid alert.  One enemy aircraft approaches to within 20 miles north of the Island and drops flares and bombs in the sea.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 19 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept in P 35 and P 247.

Coast at Madliena

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Beauforts, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson, one Liberator to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire damaged by enemy action crash-landed: pilot uninjured.

LUQA  2114-0134 hrs  Four Wellingtons 69 Squadron airborne to attack an enemy southbound convoy: one hit with a 1000 lb claimed.  0105-1513 hrs  Five Wellingtons 69 Squadron airborne to attack the same convoy: no hits observed.  One Spitfire and two Baltimors 69 Squadron despatched during the day on reconnaissance.

10th Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  D Company take over guard duties of Qawra Point and Madliena.

20 October 1942: Maltese ‘Spirit of Resistance’ Recognised

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

During the month ended 20th October, total of 134 alerts, 90 by day, 44 by night.  61 bombing raids, 38 by day, 23 by night.  64 people were killed (28 men, 18 women, 18 children), 63 were seriously injured (19 men, 25 women, 19 children).  128 houses were seriously damaged including (repeat including) 48 in Gozo.

Recent recrudescence of enemy air attacks has if anything tended to raise morale by taking people’s minds off continued privations in the shape of shortage of food and other commodities.  From the outset of the new phase of attacks, it has been clear that the spirit of resistance has not fallen during the lull of the previous few months.

NEWS CORRESPONDENT PRAISES ISLANDERS’ RESILIENCE

A news correspondent in Malta said today that the Islanders are becoming used to the almost continuous roar of planes and detonations of anti-aircraft guns. “The people come out into the streets at night, watch the search lights pick out planes, and urge anti-aircraft gunners to quicken their rate of fire.”

An advertisement appeared in The Times of Malta today inviting applications for vacancies on the staff of a school on the Island – one for classics and the other for mathematics and science.

MALTA TROOPS PRACTISE SEABORNE LANDINGS

The General Officer Commanding Troops in Malta attended an exercise today held by 2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment.  The Battalion were demonstrating the results of recent training, particularly practice landings from motor launches.  The GOC also watched an exercise by 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment practising assault course techniques.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 OCTOBER TO DAWN 21 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Frequent showers throughout the day.  Thunder and lightning very late evening.

0640-0711 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 enemy aircraft including fighters and fighter bombers approaching the Island.  Six Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept but sight nothing.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on patrol at 21000 feet east of the Island but do not locate the enemy.  The raiders take advantage of 100 per cent cloud cover at 7-8000 feet to cross the coast and drop four bombs on Ta Qali aerodrome.  The airfield’s anti-aircraft gunners open fire, damaging one ME 109.

Wardija

0700 hrs  Two ME 109s machine-gun St Paul’s Bay.  Wardia Observation Post reports seeing a ME 109 attack and machine-gun a Gozo boat.

0910-0950 hrs  One Spitfire 249 Squadron is airborne to act as escort to a submarine: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1106-1150 hrs  Air raid alert for 25 enemy fighters which approach the Island in small groups, taking advantage of cloud cover.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: no engagement.  ME 109 fighter bombers drop four bombs on the Safi end of Luqa runway, causing craters, and near St Nicola Church.  One Spitfire 1435 Squadron is damaged in combat: pilot unhurt.

1415-1426 hrs  Air raid alert as a small number of raiders approach to within 18 miles of the Island and then recede.  Four Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on patrol to the west of the Island and Grand Harbour as cover to incoming aircraft: no engagement.

1700-1805 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled on intercept patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties   Gunner Paul Busuttil, 2nd Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Private Vincent Casha, Malta Pioneer Group, Malta Territorial Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 20 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P 42 swept in by Speedy, having been met and escorted by two Motor Launches. P 42 claimed hits on two merchant vessels in convoy: her batteries were damaged by an accurate depth charge attack.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two BEauforts, one Liberator, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  one Hudson to Gibraltar; one Beaufort to Shallufa; two Beauforts to LG 224.

LUQA  One Spitfire 69 Squadron despatched on a search near Lampedusa for enemy shipping attacked last night.  One Baltimore 69 Squadron sent on photographic reconnaissance Cotrone Harbour.

21 October 1942: Malta Blitz Fails To Stop Sinking of Axis Supplies

Submarines of the Malta flotilla has sunk three enemy merchant vessels in recent days and damaged several others.  The submarine successes follow a week in which the Island’s air forces have launched eleven attacks on enemy convoys attempting to supply Axis troops in North Africa.

It is clear that despite his renewed heavy bombardment of the Island Kesselring has failed to stop its forces interrupting enemy supply lines.  Combined attacks from Allied aircraft and submarines based on both sides of the Mediterranean have halted fuel tankers, caused merchant ships to turn back and sent tons of supplies crucial to Rommel’s war effort to the bottom of the sea.

Ack Ack at Work

ARTILLERY ORDERED: HOLD FIRE TO SAVE AMMO

Gun positions are still restricted to 15 rounds per gun despite the recent increased enemy activity.  Artillery commanders have ordered every gun position to reserve fire for good targets.  At the same time they urge positions which get a good target to ‘engage it hotly’.

QUESTIONS IN PARLIAMENT

Mr William Thorne (MP for West Ham Plaistow) today asked the Secretary of State for Air in the House of Commons how many times Malta had been raided; how many people have been killed, the amount of property damaged and the number of aeroplanes brought down since the declaration of war.  Sir Archibald Sinclair replied: “Up to 19th October there have been 1,660 bombing attacks on Malta, and 1,069 enemy aircraft have been destroyed. I understand that, up to 20th September, 1,386 civilians had been killed and 6,704 buildings destroyed or damaged.”

Commander Sir Archibald Southby, MP for Epsom then asked whether in view of what he had said he does not think it necessary in the interests of the people of Malta, to hit Italy from the air.  The Secretary of State answered:  “We have been hitting Italy from the air, and we shall go on hitting Italy.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 OCTOBER TO DAWN 22 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  A showery day: thunderstorm and heavy shower early.

0703-0735 hrs  Air raid alert as 15 ME 109s including fighter bombers approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: P/O Walton damages one ME 109.  The remaining raiders use cloud cover to drop bombs on the Safi strip and Gudja.  One high explosive lands in Tal Liebru and four on Xlejli.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

0847-0915 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 German and Italian fighters including seven ME 109 fighter bombers heading for Malta.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept but are unable to engage. The raiders cross the coast and drop bombs near Siggiewi and on the Safi runway, damaging one aircraft on the ground and one motor transport vehicle.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

0930-1030 hrs  Air raid alert as 25 German and Italian raiders including fighter bombers approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron are scrambled to join the eight of 126 Squadron still airborne from the previous raid.  P/O Walton destroys one Macchi 202.  Bombs are dropped on Luqa and Ta Kandia.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

18 pounder gun

1126 hrs  Air raid alert as 15 enemy aircraft including Re 2001s and ME 109s approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  The raiders launch a dive-bombing attack on Qawra Tower post which returns fire.  Bombs land on the searchlight position and the 18 pounder gun position.

1254-1354 hrs  Air raid alert for 40 plus enemy raiders approaching the Island under cloud cover.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  Bombs are dropped from a great height on Ta Qali.

1530-1605 hrs  Air raid alert: 25 enemy fighters including fighter bombers drop bombs 10-15 miles north of Gozo.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept but see no raiders: none cross the coast.

0435-0515  Air raid alert.  Four enemy aircraft approach and recede within five miles of Grand Harbour, dropping all bombs in the sea.  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron is airborne and damages one HE 111 north of the Island.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 21 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe swept P 247 and P 35 to sea, and escorted P 37 and P 211: the latter reported having sunk one southbound ship east of Pantelleria and P 37 two hits on a southbound merchant vessel.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One DC3 from LG 224; two Wellingtons from Shallufa; one Beaufort from Gibraltar. Departures  One Liberator, one Hudson to Gibraltar; two Beauforts to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington overshot runway on landing; undercarriage collapsed: crew uninjured.

LUQA  One Beaufighter 69 Squadron despatched on shipping search near Greek Islands and photographed shipping in Corfu harbour.  One Spitfire 69 Squadron despatched and photographed Navarino and Tripoli.

TA QALI  229 and 249 Squadrons stood down.

1st Bn HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  During period 15-21 October the Battalion has found two impressed lorries, one motorcycle and five other ranks for work on Hal Far aerodrome.  During the hours of daylight two twin Lewis guns have been manned for anti-aircraft defence of the Safi strip.

22 October 1942: Luftwaffe Crew Captured After 3 Days Adrift

RAF Air Sea Rescue Launch

The pilot and crew of a JU 88 bomber were rescued today after three days adrift in a dinghy off the coast of Malta.  The bomber was taking part in a dusk air raid on Monday evening when it was shot down by Flight Lieutenant Pring of 89 Squadron and ditched in the sea.  The crew managed to bail out and get into their dinghy.

Two hours later an enemy search and rescue vessel was spotted searching for the crew but did not find them.  The dinghy was left drifting helplessly until it was spotted today and the RAF Rescue Launch set out in pursuit.  All four crew members survived and were taken prisoner.  They have been named as pilot Oberleutnant Ernst Neuffer, age 27, wireless operator Unteroffizier Fritz Hinterberg (21) and crew members Unteroffizier Hans Ehrentraut (28) and 24 year old Unteroffizier Joseph Stern.

TROOPS BACK TO FULL STRENGTH ON AIRFIELDS                

The number of Army personnel has returned to its former high levels following the recent air raids.  1000 men are now working daily on the aerodromes, repairing pens and filling craters to keep runways open following air attacks.  So far during the recent blitz none of the airfields has been unserviceable for more than a few minutes.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 OCTOBER TO DAWN 23 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Fair to fine.

0714-0748 hrs  Air raid alert for 15 enemy fighters including ME 109 fighter bombers heading for Malta.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept but encounter no enemy aircraft.  The raiders cross the coast at great height taking advantage of cloud cover and drop bombs on Hamrun and Birkirkara, damaging property and causing civilian casualties.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

0935-1039 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 ME 109s and Macchi 202s including fighter bombers approaching Malta.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: F/Lt McLeod destroys one Macchi 202.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are also scrambled to intercept: F/Lt McElroy and P/O Lowrey destroy one ME 109; P/O Sanderson destroys one Macchi 202; S/Ldr Woods probably destroys one ME 109 and damages one; Sgt Stead damages one ME 109 and one Macchi 202.  The remaining raiders drop bombs on the Ta Qali and Mosta areas.

1120-1220 hrs  Air raid alert for 25 enemy fighters and fighter bombers approaching the Island.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  The raiders cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa, Ta Qali and Hal Far.  Heavy Ack Ack fire and also Light Ack Ack who destroy one ME 109.

1343-1401 hrs  Air raid alert for a formation of enemy fighters approaching the Island.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but see nothing.  The enemy is believed to have turned back.

1512-1619 hrs  Air raid alert for 60 German and Italian fighters escorting fighter bombers towards the Island.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: Sgt Brown and P/O Walton each damage two Macchi 202s.  Eight Spitfires are also scrambled from Hal Far but are unable to gain sufficient height to engage.  Many fighter bombers jettison their bombs in the sea.  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are also airborne but see nothing.  About half of the raiders cross the coast in cloud cover: fighter bombers drop bombs near Luqa and Kirkop.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: no claims.

Military casualties  William Osborne, Foreman of Stokers, HM Dockyard.

Civilian casualties  Hamrun  Carmel Calleja, age 37; Mary Calleja, age 11; Anthony Debono, age 54; Carmela Debono, age 42; Alfred Fenech, age 73; Alfred Muscat, age 4; Jennie Scerri, age 17; Filippa Whiddatt, age 12.  St Julian’s  Carmela Sciberras, age 56.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 22 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Speedy swept P 44 in from patrol.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufighter from Gibraltar.  Departures  One DC3 to LG 224; one Wellington to Shallufa.

LUQA  One Baltimore 69 Squadron despatched on shipping search along the Greek coast.  One Spitfire 69 Squadron despatched on photo-reconnaissance of Taranto and Brindisi.  Three special Wellingtons 69 Squadron, one carrying bombs and two carrying torpedoes, despatched to attack an enemy tanker sighted by a photo-reconnaissance Spitfire.  All aircraft returned owing to severe electrical storms which make it impossible to locate or attack the convoy.

23 October 1942: Battle For El Alamein Has Begun

Night offensive begins at El Alamein (c) IWM E18467

At 9.40 this evening a four hour Allied ground and air bombardment began targeting Rommel’s forces at El Alamein.  As the shelling subsided, ground troops and armoured divisions began their advance across Axis minefields.  The offensive follows weeks of attacks on enemy supply convoys, designed to weaken Axis troops and reduce their firepower.

LUFTWAFFE BOMBERS STAYING AWAY

Observers report that no JU 88 bombers or other twin-engined aircraft have approached Malta since Monday.  Enemy air raids are now confined to ‘tip and run’ attacks by heavily escorted fighter bombers.  However, the poor weather since Monday has worked to the raiders’ advantage, giving the agile ‘Jabos’ the advantage of cloud from which to launch attacks and escape.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 OCTOBER TO DAWN 24 OCTOBER 1942

Weather   Showers.

0630-0736 hrs  Air raid alert as 35 enemy aircraft including ME 109 fighter bombers approach the Island in four quick raids.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept: Sgt Saunders destroys one ME 109, F/Lt Charney damages another.  F/O Lindsay’s Spitfire is shot down and he is killed.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron Luqa are also scrambled to intercept: no claims.  Bombs are dropped near St Paul’s Bay, and on Mosta and Imtarfa.  Light Ack Ack guns destroy one ME 109.

0830-0910 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 fighters and fighter bombers which fly round the east of the island.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: Sgt Marshall damages one ME 109.  The raiders then recede.

1010-1038 hrs  Air raid alert.  30 enemy fighters including fighter bombers approach the Island. Three ME 109 fighter bombers drop high explosive bombs on the south east side of the runway at Ta Qali, and on Mosta, damaging property and wounding one civilian.  Eight fighter bombers drop bombs near Zurrieq village and on St Nicola and Kirkop areas.  Malta fighters are airborne and engage, damaging two ME 109s.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1240-1301 hrs  Air raid alert.  15 enemy fighters approach the Island at great height.  While fighters strafe the airfield with machine guns, three ME 109 fighter bombers dive down and drop six high explosive bombs on the Ta Qali dispersal area.  Malta fighters are airborne; no engagements.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1559-1622 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 enemy aircraft approach Malta.  Eight Spitfires 1435 Squadron and four 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  The raiders do not cross the coast.

2210-2300 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron is airborne to intercept reported enemy raiders which turn back 35 miles from Malta: no sighting.

Military casualties  Flight-Lieutenant Alec Lindsay, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Michael Sultana, age 73; Carmelina Grech, age 9.

Enemy casualties  Unteroffizier Heribert Wagner, pilot of a Messerschmitt BF 109 fighter, shot down and killed.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 23 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Una returned from patrol and was swept in by Hythe.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Hudsons, two Liberators from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed on land while in combat: pilot killed.

LUQA  One Spitfire 69 Squadron despatched on photo-reconnaissance of Taranto and Brindisi.  One Spitfire 69 Squadron sent to search for enemy shipping along the west coast of Greece.

24 October 1942: Rations To Be Cut Again

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 24 OCTOBER 1942

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

1.  Enemy now forced to use fighters or fighter bombers only.  RAF have maintained superiority over Island and little damage done.  Air and submarine offensive against enemy convoys maintained.

Raider over Grand Harbour

2.  During daylight. 37 alerts.  Dusk 19 October 40 bombers approached intercepted by six Spitfires.  Three crossed coast rest jettisoned bombs in the sea.  Two JU 88s destroyed.  Remaining alerts each few fighter bombers heavily escorted.  Total 500 Spitfire sorties against 1245 enemy sorties.  Nine fighters destroyed, four probably destroyed, sixteen damaged by RAF.  Four ME 109s destroyed by Lt Ack Ack, two damaged by small arms.  Only three Spitfires destroyed, four damaged.

3.  By night.  Eight alerts.  18 aircraft approach, 13 crossed coast.  Bombs scattered localities.  Beaufighters damaged one JU 88, one HE 111.

4.  Offensive.  Total five Swordfish, five Albacore, eight Wellington sorties against enemy convoys.  Result one Tanker, two merchant vessels hit by torpedoes, one merchant vessel hit by 1000 lb bomb.  Other results unobserved due to bad weather.  Submarines have also been very successful recently.

5.  Admin.  Further economies in motor transport fuel have cut out all mobile training.  Army now existing on less than 4000 gallons petrol per week.  Rations being slightly further reduced on 1st November but calorific value unchanged.  Winter accommodation suffering from lack of petrol and materials.

6.  Military damage negligible; casualties five Other Ranks wounded.

7.  Many unexploded bombs disposed of including 200 anti-personnel and large number of German 1 kg incendiaries.  New type delayed action Butterfly anti-personnel bomb fuze 67 already reported separately.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 OCTOBER TO DAWN 25 OCTOBER 1942

Weather  Mainly fine.

0635-0740 hrs  Air raid alert.  40 enemy aircraft approach the Island in a series of fighter bomber raids.  The bombers dive to attack Ta Qali and Luqa aerodromes, damaging one aircraft on the ground and injuring three airmen.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagements.  One ME 109 is destroyed by Light Anti Aircraft fire.

1011-1038 hrs  Air raid alert for 20 enemy fighters and fighter bombers approaching at great height.  Four Spitfires from Hal Far and eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: no claims.  The raiders cross the coast at height and drop bombs between Luqa and Grand Harbour, on the Mqabba area and the Safi strip, and on Zurrieq.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1300-1348 hrs  Air raid alert for 15 enemy fighters including a few fighter bombers.  Eight Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept: Black Section are jumped by enemy fighters and one Spitfire is shot down: Sgt Saunders is killed.  The fighter bombers drop bombs on the Ta Qali area.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

1521 hrs  Air raid alert.  40 ME 109s and Macchi 202s including a few fighter bombers are intercepted by Malta fighters well to the north of the Island.  Bombs are dropped on the Luqa area, damaging one aircraft on the ground.  One ME 109 and one Macchi 202 are destroyed by fighters and one ME 109 probably destroyed.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat and crash-lands: pilot uninjured.

1615 hrs  Enemy fighter bombers attack the RAF Station at Burmarrad.  Three bombs land nearby: one on soft ground fails to explode.  Another bomb lands near the motor transport drivers’ billet of 2nd Bn King’s Own Malta Regiment, destroying the ablution facility.  Bombs also explode near their defence posts causing slight shock to ten men manning the posts.

1629 hrs  All clear.

2109-2154 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa is airborne on patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties  Private Philip Kanter, Royal Army Medical Corps, No 90 General Hospital;  Sergeant Raymond Saunders, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 24 OCTOBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P 247 returned and was swept in by Speedy.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two DC3 from LG 224; two Beauforts from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Hudsons, two Liberators to Gibraltar; two Beauforts, one DC3 to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down by enemy fighters: pilot killed.  One Spitfire damaged by enemy action: pilot injured.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 54.  Dealt with: High Explosives 13 including 3 with unmarked delayed-action fuzes (4 x 250kg, 10 x 50kg); 1 Italian anti-personnel bomb container; 357 anti-personnel bombs; 5 oil incendiaries.

 

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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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Posted by on September 26, 2017 in 1942, September 1942

 

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