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5 March 1942: 83 HE Bombs on Airfields in Afternoon Raid

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Mqabba (NWMA Malta)

Royal Artillery Headquarters today announces new measures to safeguard Malta’s defending fighter aircraft during “enemy intruder tactics at night against the harbours and aerodromes on the Island [which] are persistent and increasing in intensity.”  The Operation Instruction which comes into effect at 1900 hrs is to enable guns and searchlights to operate effectively against enemy intruder aircraft without endangering the safety of the Island’s own aircraft.  The order identifies zones within which guns will not engage the enemy while Malta-based aircraft are taking off and landing.


Weather  Wind north west.  No cloud; fine.

0750-0843 hrs  Five aircraft approach the Island but do not cross the coast.

0923-1141 hrs  Ten enemy fighters, four with bombs, approach Ta Qali from the south and drop ten high explosive (HE) bombs near underground hangars. Three civilians of AMDW [operations room] are injured and two vehicles damaged.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1143 hrs  Eight Hurricanes from Ta Qali intercept five JU 88s, and some of the Messerschmitts as they return from the raid.  Hurricanes from Hal Far join the formation.  S/L Wells attacks two JU 88s but sees no results before he is chased back by two MEs.  P/O Hall and P/O Morrison-Jones also fire at one JU 88.

Sgt Boyd attacks a 3rd JU 88: the engine catches fire and it disappears in a slow, shallow dive.  He then gets on the tail of a 4th JU and sees the starboard engine catch fire.  Finally he attacks a 5th JU but observes no results as Messerschmitt fighters chase him back. 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry report a JU 88 crashed at Jebel Ciantar: the machine burst into flames and there are no survivors.

1155 hrs  Ten JU 88s with an escort of twenty fighters approach the Island.  Four JU 88s dive over Grand Harbour and drop 1000kg bombs on Floriana, Lazaretto and Manoel Island.  One lands on the civilian area of Savoy Hill, Sliema.  Sixteen Hurricanes plus Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage the enemy.

1210 hrs  P/O Kidson engages a Messerschmitt 109 to the north of Malta.  Kidson’s Hurricane is shot down into the sea; he does not return.

1240 hrs  A Second wave of six JU 88s with fighters crosses Kalafrana to drop bombs on the Safi strip and Luqa.  One Wellington is hit and burns out.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage: 225 Light Ack Ack Battery claim two hits on JU 88s – at least one is confirmed damaged.

1300 hrs  All clear.

1439-1815 hrs   A series of raids directed against the aerodromes.

Six ME 109s approach Ta Qali: three of them drop eleven HE bombs on the airfield and surrounding area.  Bombs explode near two Blenheims but do no damage.  Another bomb falls near No 11 Cave, dropped by three ME 109s.

Enemy aircraft continue to patrol off the coast.

Six JU 88s with fourteen ME 109s approach from the north, turn over the coast and attack the southern airfields.  24 HE bombs of 250kg and 48 HE bombs of 50kg are dropped on Luqa, Safi and Hal Far.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1630 hrs  JU 88s attack Luqa rendering the short runway unserviceable for two hours. One Maryland is damaged, two Blenheims damaged, one Wellington damaged.  Huts in the Blenheim dispersal area are damaged.  Three JU 88s are engaged at 4-6000 feet by five guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Regiment: no claims.

1635 hrs  Two JU 88s attack Hal Far, dropping two bombs on the dispersal areas and the remainder off the aerodrome.  No damage or casualties.

1635 hrs  Two JU 88s drop bombs on the Safi strip, plus one on the Ta Klantun area and one on Ta Karach ridge.

Enemy aircraft continue to patrol off the coast.

1815 hrs  All clear.

1920-0712 hrs  A continuous series of raiders, 18 in all, come over Malta and bomb Ta Qali and at Luqa, where on Blenheim is burned out, one Wellington damaged and a petrol tanker destroyed.

15 bombs fell in the area of 8th Bn Kings Own Royal Regiment:  eleven landed in fields (including six near a Bofors gun position) and four in a field 200 yards south west of Mqabba Church.  One did not explode and was provisionally identified as delayed action.  It was reported as Priority to Royal Engineers HQ: a Bomb Disposal Officer attended to defuze the bomb which was removed next morning.

2105 hrs  Bombs on Bidni area.

2120 hrs  Sgt Wood of 1435 Night Fighter Unit crashes on Ta Qali aerodrome due to the collapse of his aircraft’s undercarriage.

2130 hrs  Bombs vicinity post L22.

2220 hrs  Bombs on Marsaxlokk.

2350 hrs  Bombs dropped south of Loreto church.

0235 hrs  Bombs on Hompesch and between Kirkop and Safi.

0645 hrs  Bombs dropped in Tal Liebru area.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Marcus Kidson, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 126 Squadron; Private Victor Giles, 1st Bn The Hampshire Regiment.

Enemy casualties  Oberleutnant Hermann RAAB, pilot of Messerchmitt Bf 109 fighter, reported missing.


ROYAL NAVY  P35 returned from patrol off Messina, having unsuccessfully attacked a small convoy.  Upholder arrived, having sunk a 5000 ton northbound ship. 

AIR HQ  Departures  Four Wellingtons to 108 MU.

HAL FAR  Night 5/6th  One Albacore 828 Squadron on search for enemy shipping Malta-Tripoli-Quara.  Nothing sighted.

LUQA  0736-1103 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron carried out SF 2A patrol; one Maryland 69 Squadron special search.  2244-0320 hrs  Two Wellingtons 37 Squadron carried out a diversion raid in conjunction with minelaying aircraft.  2321-0025 hrs  Two Wellingtons 37 Squadron minelaying in Tripoli Harbour.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  ‘Barossa Day (1)  – a Battalion holiday.  General Officer Commanding, Maj Gen D M W Beak VC DSO MC at dinner.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.  Bombs overnight at Qormi.  0915 hrs  Battalion training exercise: “Company in Defence” area Tal Minsia. 

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  GOC Troops and Staff visited Battalion HQ and inspected loaded carriers and trucks.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 21 February-15 March 128 (average 6 per day).

(1)  Barossa Day commemorates 5th March 1811 when 87th Regt of Foot (later Royal Irish Fusiliers) captured the Eagle standard of the French 8th Regiment at the Battle of Barossa – the first such victory in the Peninsular wars.  Commending them for the Barossa victory, the Prince Regent directed that they wear the eagle on their colours.

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Posted by on March 5, 2017 in 1942, March 1942


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17 February 1942: Malta’s Worst Ever Winter

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Wellington bombers

Gales and heavy continuous rain keep the enemy away but make life in Malta very uncomfortable in stone buildings designed for hot, dry weather.  Rainfall is currently twice the average for February in what is becoming the worst winter on record.  Ta Qali and Hal Far are little better than lakes, preventing the Malta’s air forces from taking to the air to protect convoys or take on the enemy.  Road conditions and the lack of available fuel mean that most journeys on the Island have to be on foot – often for miles.


Funerals take place today at St Andrews Cemetery for five servicemen killed by the bomb which destroyed the Regent Cinema on Sunday.  Meanwhile it has been announced that another serviceman has died as a result of injuries sustained in the raid.


Four Wellington aircraft from a delivery flight for Malta were lost overnight.  The four were among a group of thirteen which left Gibraltar overnight heading for Luqa.  Italian news has reported one Wellington shot down in flames by fighters from Castel Vetrano airfield, with a crew of six taken prisoner.  A second Wellington is also reported forced down at Modica by German fighters.  The aircraft was undamaged but its crew of seven were captured.  A third was shot down into the sea by JU 88 aircraft just 45 kilometres from Malta.  F/O J Willis-Richards was rescued by an Italian destroyer; the remainder of the crew did not survive.  The fourth Wellington crashed on landing at Luqa airfield: the aircraft is a write-off but the crew escaped uninjured.


Weather  80% cloud.  Wind southerly.  Rain continuously during the day; cold.

0906-0943 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by two ME 109s flies over the Island from south to north at 24000 feet without dropping bombs.  Aircraft believed to be on reconnaissance mission.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

No further alerts  Rain and storm conditions continuous.  Little friendly aircraft activity during the night owing to bad weather.

Military casualties  Wing Commander Norman Mulholland DFC, Royal Air Force (RAF); Sergeant Arthur Wills Royal Australian Air Force; Flight Lieutenant Leonard Brain; Sergeant Edward Anstee RAF Volunteer Reserve; Sergeant James Andrews, RAF; Private Alexander Wilson, 8th Battalion, King’s Own Royal Regiment died from injuries received in the bombing of the Regent Cinema.

Civilian casualties  Qormi  Carmel Briffa (age 60).


AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Albacores from El Adem; one Sunderland from Gibraltar; thirteen Wellingtons from Gibraltar (four missing).  Departures  One Sunderland to Gibraltar, one Wellington to Shallufa, one Wellington to LG224, one Beaufighter to 108 MU.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland Just I patrol photo-reconnaissance (PR) Corfu harbour; one Maryland PR Agostoli, Navarin, Patras, Just 2 patrol; one Maryland SF1 patrol; one Beaufighter PR Sicilian aerodromes.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

TA QALI  Aerodrome unserviceable except for take-off.  Squadrons left to operate at Luqa.  40 personnel attached Luqa; rations arranged.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Re-grouping of NIB to create as large a mobile reserve as possible.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT Meanee Day (1).  Battalion parade on Floriana Parade Ground: spoiled by rain. Funeral of Private Wilson and Private Byers at St Andrews.  Rest of the day a holiday.  No air raids: weather too bad.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  The regimental funeral took place of the late Adjutant Captain P Low, Captain H Gough and Fusilier Haunce at St Andrews’ Cemetery.  The Brigadier and representatives of all military units attended.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Private A Wilson died at 90th General Hospital as a result of injuries received on Sunday 15th February.  Corporal Langdon’s injuries are not so serious as at first thought.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Heavy rain all day.  Aircraft activites hampered.  Luqa working party continued.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 1; not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

(1) Named after a battle in India on 17th February 1843, in which the Cheshire Regiment played an important role

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Posted by on February 17, 2017 in 1942, February 1942


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15 February 1942: 20 hours of Air Raids – 41 Killed by Single Bomb

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  • Malta under alert for 19 hours 58 minutes
  • Daytime air raid lasts 10 hours 51 minutes
  • 141 enemy bombers and fighters
  • 175 High Explosive bombs dropped on Luqa and Valletta area
  • Bomb brings down cinema onto audience
  • Mine disposal hero killed
  • Eight enemy aircraft destroyed or damaged


Regent Cinema rescue operations (NWMA Malta)

At 1754 hrs today a single JU 88 bomber turned inland towards Fort St Elmo and aimed a stick of four 250 kg bombs along the peninsula of Valletta.  One hit the Casino Maltese, killing at least eight people, the next struck the Palace and the third smashed into the Regent Cinema.  The auditorium was almost full for the afternoon showing of ‘The North-West Mounted Police’ starring Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald.  The building collapsed onto the audience, most of whom were servicemen enjoying their Sunday leave.  Early estimates are 15 civilians and 26 servicemen killed and at least 29 wounded.

Servicemen and civilians who had been sheltering nearby rushed to the scene to help, followed by the Police, ARP squads and medical teams.  According to ARP Sergeant Major John Mifsud:  “…we saw a harrowing scene, with limp and moving limbs entangled between the debris.  We searched for the injured to whom we administered first-aid before rushing them to hospital; our timely intervention saved a few lives.”  (1)

George Boswell was one of the men rescued from the debris.  He had stepped outside to visit the WC when the bomb struck.  A brick wall fell on him, injuring his leg and leaving him in a coma for several days.  

Mr Anton Caruana Galizia was killed in the raid – a man described as “a popular and prominent Maltese” by the Rev Nicholls of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral:   “I remember the day my father’s brother, Anton Caruana Galizia, was buried.  He had been hit by a splinter from a bomb dropped on Valletta in February 1942.  My father was preparing to leave for the funeral and I remarked on the black tie he was wearing.  He answered, ‘It is not half as black as my heart’.  It was a remark I shall never forget. I was seven years old.”  Anne Parnis, Glenelg, S Australia, 2011


Lt Cmdr W Hiscock, DSC, GC

The deaths have been confirmed of Lieutenant Commander William Ewart Hiscock, DSC, and Mrs Alice Beatrice Hiscock.  The bomb and mine disposal officer and his wife were killed by an enemy bomb which landed directly on their home in St George’s Barracks.  Lt Cdr Hiscock, Royal Navy (Retired) was appointed to ‘miscellaneous duties, sea mine disposal’ at HMS St Angelo, where he has served since 1939.  He will receive the posthumous award of the George Cross for disarming a hitherto unknown type of Italian torpedo machine in 15 feet of water of St George’s Bay in September 1941.


Weather  30% cloud; bright periods.  Wind westerly.

0745-1836 hrs  One continuous air raid.

0745 hrs  Twelve ME 109s patrol south east of the Island.

0840 hrs  Five Beaufighters from 252 Squadron detachment at Luqa take off to return to Egypt but are warned to return to base due to an incoming enemy raid.  Some fail to hear the message and one is shot down by ME 109s a few miles east of Malta.

Seven JU 88s approach from the east and drop bombs on Luqa and the Safi Strip.  Heavy Ack Ack engage by Height Control destroying one JU 88 which crashes in flames on land near Bubaqra and damaging a second which left the Island smoking badly.  Ten guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery fire 176 rounds, most guns claiming hits on the enemy.  One gun destroys a JU 88 making its escape.

0940-1040 hrs  Wing Commanders Satchell and Rabagliati lead 242 Squadron and 1435 Flight in an attack on three JU 88s without result.  They then attack five ME 109s.  W/Cmdr Satchell shoots off the tail of one and watches the aircraft hit the water: claims one destroyed.  W/Cmdr Rabagliati attacks one ME 109 which turns over and drops into the sea.

0955 hrs  Bombs on are dropped on Safi landing strip and Ta Karach.  One Other Rank is killed and two injured in the raids.

1000 hrs  While enemy fighters patrol off Kalafrana, three JU 88 approach over Kalafrana to bomb Luqa.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  All guns of 225 Light Ack Ack battery at Hal Far engage and shoot down one JU 88 which crashes into the sea south of Dingli.

1045 hrs  Twelve aircraft are scrambled from Ta Qali and attacked three JU 88s and one ME 109.  No claims.

The ME 109s continue to patrol south of the Island at varying heights up to 18000 feet in formations of up to six aircraft.

1055 hrs  Hal Far aerodrome is attacked again by enemy aircraft.  Three JU 88s at 4-600 feet are engaged by 225 Light Ack Ack Battery guns.  Four positions each claim one hit.

1100 hrs  Three JU 88 approach over Comino and drop bombs on the Safi strip from a height of 9000 feet.  Barrages are fired and the bombers split up, one receding north over Sliema and the other two south.

ME 109s continue to patrol off the Island.

1400 hrs  One JU 88 dives to 7000 feet over Kalafrana Bay, is engaged by Heavy and Light Ack Ack fire and drops bombs in the sea.

1415 hrs  One JU 88 approaches over St Paul’s Bay at 12400 feet, dives towards Grand Harbour at 6000 feet and drops bombs on Sliema sea front.  Both Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1430 hrs  One JU 88 approaches from the north and dives towards Grand Harbour at 4-5000 feet.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage; bombs are dropped on St Angelo.

1500 hrs  Enemy fighters continue their patrols off the Island.

1636 hrs  A returning Maryland is attacked by two ME 109s.  One ME 109 is shot down but the Maryland itself is so damaged that it has to make a forced landing in Kalafrana Bay.  All the crew are safe.

1715 hrs  Twelve aircraft under S/Ldr Beazley of 249 and 605 Squadrons are scrambled to escort another Maryland.  They are jumped by ME 109s.  They take evasive action but are not successful.  Pilot Officer Lowe of 605 Squadron is shot down into the sea and reported missing.

1800 hrs  One JU 88s dives over Valetta and scores a direct hit on the Casino Maltese, the Palace and the Regent Cinema.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1835 hrs  All clear.

1951-2337 hrs  Fourteen aircraft approach from the north but only two cross the coast.  All bombs are dropped in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0052-0150 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea and Kalafrana Bay.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0310-0358 hrs; 0427-0535 hrs  One aircraft at a time approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea without crossing the coast.

0620-0708 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north east but does not cross the coast.  No bombs reported.

Military casualties  Leading Stoker William Dempster, HMS Cleopatra; Able Seaman J W Mills, HMS Cleopatra; Ordinary Seaman W Walker, HMS Cleopatra; Able Seaman Alexander Barr, HMS Maori; Boy 1st Class Ronald Williams, HMS Maori; Boy 1st Class John W. Wilsdon, HMS Maori; Stoker 1st Class George Cole, HMS St.Angelo.

Aircraftsman Robert Kemp, Royal Air Force (RAF) Volunteer Reserve (VR); Corporal Gordon Singer, RAF; Sergeant John Webb, RAF; Flight Sergeant Clive Mulholland, Royal New Zealand Air Force; Aircraftsman 2nd Class Arthur Sydney Day, RAF VR; Flight Sergeant Granville Jackson, Royal Canadian Air force; Aircraftman 1st Class Henry Gorman RAF VR; Sergeant Alan Largent, RAF VR; Sergeant Daniel Keane RAF VR.

Private Francis Byers, 1st Battalion (Bn) The Cheshire Regiment; Private Frank Wilson, 1st Bn The Cheshire Regiment; Private William Dudman, 1st Bn The Hampshire Regiment; Private Vincent Vella, 2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment; Fusilier Thomas Wallwork, 11th Bn The Lancashire Fusiliers; Sergeant Robert Cass, 32nd Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Fusilier Albert Haunce, 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers; Capt Henry Gough, 2nd Bn The Royal Irish Fusiliers; Captain Peter Low, 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara   Pio Carabott, age 34.  Floriana  Gerald Ciantar, age 19; Giulio Mifsud, age 19.  Hamrun  Joseph Cassar, age 30; Mary Cassar, age 19; Renzo Flores, age 65; Albert Zammit, age 26.  Paola  John Attard, age 20; Toni Farrugia, age 14; Michael Wickan, age 19.  Pieta  Frances Patsy Cutter, age 19.  Sliema  Melita Abela, age 26, Joseph Amodeo, age 24.  Valletta  Dr R Bonello MD, age 52; Dr A Caruana Galizia LL.D, age 46; Joseph Cassar, age 17; Francis Cremona, age 16; Joseph Falzon, age 17; Frank Farrugia, age 13; Raffaele Mallia, age 54; Frangiska (Kitty) Mamo, age 17; Fr Gerald Pace OC, age 40; Manasser Reginiano, age 18.

Enemy casualties  Leutnant Wilhelm Gretz, 7/LG 1, pilot JU 88 bomber pilot shot down.  Crew of JU 88 bomber shot down by Anti-Aircraft fire:  Pilot Leutnant Waldemar Stadermann, Observer Oberfeldwebel Walter Hesse, Air Gunner Unteroffizier Martin Knobloch, Wireless Operator Oberfeldwebel Albert Stahl; all of 6/KG 77.


ROYAL NAVY  HM ships Penelope, Legion, Lance arrived.

AIR HQ Arrivals  One Clare from Cairo; one Whitley from 236 Wing; one Beaufighter from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Clare, one Whitley to Gibraltar; two Beaufighters to 108 MU; five Beaufighters to LG 10 (two reported missing).

HAL FAR  Night 15/16th  Five Albacores 828 Squadron despatched to attack an enemy force of four cruisers and eight destroyers.  Hits were observed on two cruisers and one destroyer.  Ack Ack and moderate smoke screen effective.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF1 patrol; one Maryland SF2 patrol; one Maryland special search.  S/D Flight  Two Wellingtons special search.

TA QALI  Continuous air raids during the day; many scrambles.  No night operations.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  Reinforcements arrived from Middle East:  1st Bn Durham Light Infantry 2 Officers; 4 Other Ranks; Malta Tanks 4 Other Ranks.  1st Durham Light Infantry Fourth Rifle Company which had been expected failed to arrive.  1800 hrs  Bomb scored direct hit on Regent Cinema, Valletta during performance.  Numerous service personnel and civilians buried under debris.  1 Cheshire casualties:  three Other Ranks killed; four Other Ranks injured.  Working parties of 1 Cheshire co-operated with civilian ARP in extricating casualties.

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Up to this date 1 Hamps had one killed and two injured as a result of enemy action.  8 King’s Own had one killed and three injured when bomb fell on Regent Cinema.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT During the afternoon the Regent Cinema in Kingsway, Valletta received a direct hit.  There were a large number of service personnel in the building at the time.  Casualties were fairly heavy; exact numbers not yet known.  We lost Private F Wilson and Private F Byers, A Company, killed; Privates Hawksley, Blinkham, Richards and Harrod injured.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Information was received that A Company and details of Battalion had arrived from Middle East and were at the dockside.  However, it turned out that only two Officers and four Other Ranks had arrived and the ships carrying the remainder of the details and A Company had been forced to return to the Middle East through enemy action.

FORTRESS COMPANY ROYAL ENGINEERS  The Regent Cinema in Valletta received a direct hit.  The cinema was full at the time, causing many casualties.  Two men of 24 Fortress Company Royal Engineers were injured and admitted to hospital.  Rescue parties from 24 Fortress Coy and 173 Tunnelling Coy RE were sent out and did admirable rescue work for 18 hours.  Bomb Disposal UXB Reported 4; not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  This was a very sad day for the Battalion.  1750 hrs a bomb fell on Regent Cinema, Valletta.  Among the casualties was the Adjutant, Captain P Low and OC A Company Captain H Gough: they were both killed.  Fusilier Haunce of C Company was also killed.  The bodies were recovered and brought to Battalion Headquarters.  This loss of the Adjutant  Capt Low and Capt Gough, both very popular and efficient officers, is most keenly felt by all the officers and men of the Battalion.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Four men of this unit were injured when a bomb fell on the Regent Cinema, Valletta.  Private A Wilson and Corporal T Langdon were the most seriously injured.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party.  Bombs at Sliema and St George’s Barracks.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER  During a heavy raid on Valletta a cinema was hit causing a number of Army personnel casualties.  The Battalion was fortunate in sustaining only one slight casualty: Private W Butler.

(1) Malta: Blitzed But Not Beaten’, Philip Vella, Progress Press 1985

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Posted by on February 15, 2017 in 1942, February 1942


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1 April 1941: Cities Shut Down as Malta Put on Red Alert

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  • No of air raid alerts 109 (including 22 night raids)
  • No of bombing raids 30
  • Days without air raid alerts 0
  • Total time under alert 55 hours 33 mins
  • Average length of alert 31.7 mins
  • Enemy aircraft shot down 35; unconfirmed 4; damaged 21
Porta Reale Valletta crop

City gates will be shut at night


Acting on information that there are about 5000 parachute troops in Sicily, new anti-invasion measures decided at yesterday’s conference of military leaders were issued today to all troops in Malta.

With immediate effect, all gates around Valletta and the Three Cities are to be shut at night from 2100 hrs. In addition, they will all be manned round the clock, as will anti-parachute positions.  The hours between 0530 and 0630 hrs have been designated a period of special vigilance, especially during moonlight.  Troops have been warned that the enemy may make use of British uniforms.  Army officers are to visit Malta Defence Volunteers, to give advice and assistance in the construction of posts in villages, beginning with the main strategic approaches.  

Strict curfew regulations will also be enforced: all movement between 2100 hrs and 0630 hrs is now forbidden. Leave for key troop companies involved in the Island’s invasion defences and for headquarters personnel is now restricted to daylight hours only. 

The enemy is known to be moving gas, believed to be Phosgene, into southern Italy. Gas capes have not yet been issued to individuals but company commanders are ready to issue these at very short notice. 

In the event of large numbers (50 or more) of enemy planes being reported designated troops will rejoin their companies under arrangements made by each Adjutant. Red rockets will be prepared for immediate firing.  Motor transport will be made ready to move immediately on order to any part of the relevant brigade area.  Meanwhile, distributor arms of all vehicles not under guard will be removed at night until further notice. 

Officers will see that at ‘Lights Out’ each night everything is in order for a rapid ‘Stand To’. All communications will be tested daily at 0530 hrs and at intervals during the night.  The evening ‘Stand To’ will be 1930-1945 hrs but may be varied at the discretion of officers. 

Reports tonight revealed that city gates were not closed at 2100 hrs as planned, due to problems caused by the lack of sufficient notice through civilian communication channels. Information has now been disseminated across all affected communities and the closures will be implemented at 2100 hrs tomorrow.


“A pistol .38 No 2 Mk1 reg no 3892 was lost at the Monico Bar, South Street, on the evening of 29 March 1941. Will the finder please communicate with the OC, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.”


Weather  Clear and fresh.

1407-1453 hrs Air raid alert for two ME 109s one mile south of Filfla approaching the Island at 24000 feet, followed at 1447 hrs by one JU 88 at 18000 feet which passes over Grand Harbour heading north east, evidently on reconnaissance. Anti-aircraft guns engage and damage the JU 88.  Seven Hurricanes are scrambled: no interception.

Military casualties  Lance-Corporal Michael Whelan, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers.


2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Battalion stood-to: airborne attack expected. Until further notice the Bn will stand to mornings at 0530 hrs until full light and evenings at 1900 hrs until dark.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Floriana area now allotted to the Sappers to defend in the event of an invasion.  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 0; dealt with 2 (1 x 50kg; 1 x 500kg). Unexploded bombs dealt with Dec 1940-Mar 1941 Total 116: High Explosive (HE) 60; other (Ack Ack shells, anti-personnel) 56.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Strengths officers 26, WOs 8, other ranks 123; Armourers other ranks 7; Artisans other ranks 4.

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  L/Cpl M Whelan died from gunshot wounds in the proximity of gun position KM4.


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Posted by on April 1, 2016 in April 1941


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11 June 1940: Malta’s First Day at War continues to add new stories about Malta in World War Two.  DON’T MISS OUT – sign up to follow maltagc70 (see R) and we’ll deliver direct to your inbox


Lt Gen Dobbie

Lt Gen Dobbie

“Whereas I have received information that War has broken out with Italy, I hereby announce to His Majesty’s Subjects in the Islands the outbreak of hostilities in humble trust in the guidance and protection of Divide Providence, and in assured confidence of the cordial support and tried fidelity and determination of the people of Malta.”  Lt Gen Dobbie, Acting Governor and Commander in Chief

At the first chimes of midnight last night, Malta’s churches announced the start of the second siege in the history of this fortress Island. Mussolini has declared the war on the side of the Axis.

“We woke at 06.45 to the scream of the air raid siren. It is not a scream really, but quite a melodious pair of notes – a major third, I think. But, since it rises from a low note to a high one, and then warbles up and down continuously in a chromatic scale, it give the impression of a shriek. Probably this is emphasised psychologically, by the fact that its warbling note means danger. Indeed when with its steady note it announces “Raiders passed” it has quite a pleasant sound.

… the siren practically synchronised with a furious outburst of anti-aircraft fire all around us. We hurried into dressing gowns, and ran to the Crypt collecting the two frightened maids as we went. The fire was severe; windows and doors rattling, and the crump of bombs falling.

There are three A.A. guns 600 yards away, clearly visible from our drawing-room windows, and indeed guns on all sides of us at about the same distance. I do not know how long the action lasted – perhaps 15 minutes. Ten planes, we are told, in two formations.

We had 8 raids [to]day, by far the worst being the last, when firing went on for about 30 minutes at about 7.30 p.m. It was a terrifying experience. I could hear bombs dropping. The sound is quite different from gunfire. It is a thick sound, and the word ‘crump’ just describes it.” (1)

Italian bombs fell near Fort Campbell, followed by near misses at St Georges and Tigne, and a direct hit on Fort St Elmo. Malta’s first military casualties were six members of the Royal Malta Artillery, would-be protectors of their Island.

Malta’s defences are minimal. The Island has fewer than 5000 ill-equipped troops, no operational fighter aircraft, only 14 coastal defence guns and food supplies sufficient for 6 weeks.

Sea Gladiator Faith

Sea Gladiator Faith

There are no air squadrons to call on – just four obsolete planes and a handful of volunteers barely trained to fly them. A fighter flight of three Sea Gladiators, historically named Faith, Hope and Charity, took to the air in a valiant effort to take on the Italian fighters. Flying Officer W J Woods found himself at about 15,000 feet, pursued by a Maachi 200:

“I suddenly heard machine-gun fire from behind me. I immediately went into a steep left-hand turn and saw a single-engine fighter diving and firing at me. For quite three minutes I circled as tightly as possible and got the enemy in my sight. I got in a good burst, full deflection shot, and he went down in a steep dive with black smoke pouring from his tail. I could not follow him down, but he appeared to go into the sea.”  (2)

Malta has claimed its first enemy fighter but not before the terror of air raids had struck the Island’s people.  More attacks soon followed causing civilian casualties across the Island, including six in one heavy bombing raid on Gzira.


0655-0751 hrs  Air raid alert.  Ten Italian SM79 bombers in two formations escorted by Macchi 200 fighters approach the Island at 14000 feet, crossing the coast over Kalafrana and Hal Far, and heading towards Grand Harbour.  Sixteen 250lb bombs are dropped on Hal Far, and another thirty between Fort Benghaisa and Birzebbugia.  Buses, a searchlight and vehicles on the aerodrome are damaged.  One aircraft carries out a low-flying attack on Fort St Elmo, dropping three bombs and killing six members of the Royal Malta Artillery.  Damage to the Dockyard is slight.  Enemy aircraft are engaged by fighters and two are reported shot down in the sea by Maltese gunners – one near Filfla and the second north of the Island.

At 0725 hrs a second attack of fifteen enemy bombers with fighter escort approaches from the same direction and attacks Corradino, Portes des Bombes, Pieta Creek, Sa Maison and St Luke’s Hospital.  Two bombs hit the Water and Electricity Department at Portes des Bombes, killing two Maltese workmen.  Another bomb hits St Luke’s Hospital, destroying a nearby house.  A bomb on Msida destroys a house, killing two civilians.  Another ten Italian bombers attack the seaplane base at Kalafrana.

0845-0920 hrs; 1005-1047 hrs; 1433-1452 hrs  Air raid alerts for aircraft which cross the Island on reconnaissance.

1721 hrs  Two groups of five raiders cross the Island at 15000 feet.  One is shot down by Ack Ack fire and another by Malta Gladiator aircraft.

1925-2050 hrs  Air raid alert.  25 Italian aircraft in formations of five approach the Island from several directions.  Bombs are dropped on Zabbar, Tarxien, Marsa and Verdala Barracks, Cospicua, and Gzira and Sliema, causing civilian casualties.  Bombs damage the Modern Imperial Hotel, Rudolph Street, and land on Parallel Street, in Sliema.  Bombs also damage property in Ponsonby Street, Gzira.

1945 hrs  One enemy airman is believed to have bailed out.  A patrol of 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers carries out a search in the Pembroke area but find nothing.  Motorboats spotted off Grand Harbour are identified as hostile and two are sunk.  The boats are later confirmed as friendly.  1st Bn Dorset Regiment rescue five of the crew.

Military casualties   Bombardier Joseph Galea, Gunners Michel’Angelo Saliba, Richard Micallef, Carmel Cordina and Paul Debono, Boy Philip Busuttil, Royal Malta Artillery. 

Civilians casualties  Birkirkara  Carmelo Galea, age 40; Cospicua  Joseph Ancilleri; Maria Fenech, age 6;  Doris Galea, age 5 mths; Gzira Michael Camenzuli (39), Lilian Doublet (7), Mary Doublet (46), Giuliano Micallef (65), Giovanni Trapani (48) and Rosina Vassallo (33); Mqabba  Giuseppe Ellul (36); Msida  Paolo Galea (37).

(1) Extract from diary of Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls, Chancellor of St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta. Courtesy of website: Malta Family History

(2) Air Battle of Malta; Official Account RAF 1940-42


Posted by on June 11, 2013 in 1940, June 1940


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