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10 April 1941: Shortages Put Anti-Aircraft Guns Out of Action

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Ack Ack gunners MaltaEQUIPMENT DELIVERIES TWO MONTHS BEHIND

A lack of essential equipment has put several anti-aircraft guns across Malta out of action. Three urgent orders for supplies made two months ago have not yet been fulfilled.  Only a handful of the 18 bearing and elevation receivers ordered on 10 February have arrived.  The Governor and Commander in Chief has made an urgent request to the War Office for the balance of the equipment to be flown to Malta immediately.

COVERT OPERATIONS TROOPS TO LEAVE MALTA

The War Office has decided that Special Service troops currently Malta would be better deployed in the Middle East. In a telegram today to the Governor and Commander in Chief, the WO expressed the belief that there is no likely role for them in Malta command.

The Independent Company, Special Service Battalionexpert in covert sea to land operations – arrived in Malta as part of Operation Colossus in February.  The unit is normally based at Manoel Island but has most recently been in Gozo as part of the anti-invasion operation ‘Picnic’. 

Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie has responded to the War Office pointing out that the Special Service personnel are very usefully employed in Malta. However, accepting that the unit is directly under the command of the Chief of Staff Mediterranean, he has agreed reluctantly to the transfer, if the unit’s skills are urgently required elsewhere.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 APRIL TO DAWN 11 APRIL 1941

Weather  Fine.  

1230-1320 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which cross Gozo from north to south and then from south to north over Hal Far and San Rocco.  Malta fighters are scrambled and anti-aircraft guns engage; no engagement.

1517-1530 hrs  Air raid alert for six enemy aircraft approaching the Island from the north. They circle to the west and north of the Island before moving away northwards.  Nine Hurricanes are scrambled; no engagement reported.

1554 hrs Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

Military casualties  Gunner William Henry Pateman, 12 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 10 APRIL 1941

ROYAL NAVY  One southbound convoy located by air reconnaissance. 830 Squadron despatched after dark but failed to intercept. 

AIR HQ Arrivals 1 Sunderland. 69 Squadron Maryland reconnaissance Tripoli Harbour: 8 destroyers, 12 plus merchant vessels.  Maryland reconnaissance Palermo Harbour: 2 cruisers, 5 destroyers, 14 merchant vessels.  Maryland reconnaissance between Malta and eastern Tunisian coast for enemy shipping sighted convoy; 830 Squadron being despatched for torpedo attack. 

HAL FAR  PM  Operational flight by 8 aircraft 830 Squadron, target Tripoli; all returned safely.

KALAFRANA   Sunderland arrived from Middle East with freight.

 

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Posted by on April 10, 2021 in 1941, April 1941

 

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30 March 1941: Malta Troops Think Postal Service is Fraud

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SERVICEMEN FEEL CHEATED AS MAIL ARRIVES MONTHS LATE

Air mail card 1 cropService personnel are becoming increasingly frustrated with the poor mail service between the United Kingdom and Malta. Many letters dated between 28 December 1940 and 18 January 1941 were among the mail delivered via the recent convoy.  However, among them were a large number carrying air mail stamps dated 1 March, for which the senders have paid a premium so that they would be carried quickly to Malta.

As there has been no air mail service to the Island for the last twelve months, this measure is regarded by troops as a simple fraud on the part of the General Post Office (GPO). As troops’ relatives often struggle to afford these additional costs, much unrest has been caused among service personnel. 

The Governor and Commander in Chief wrote urgently to the War Office today, urging them to clear up the muddle and simplify the despatch of private letters to Malta. In response, the War Office pointed out that the suspension of the air mail service to Malta was publicly announced in the press by the GPO on 11 June 1940 and that enquiries at any Post Office should have confirmed this. However, if any letters were marked with the [air mail] stamp on 1 March, it points out that they could only be sent by the normal route via the Middle East, hence the delay in arrival at Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 MARCH TO DAWN 31 MARCH 1941

Weather  Fine.

0610-0640 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy aircraft which approach the Island and drop bombs near Imgarr and on the Hal Far and Birzebbuga areas.

1000-1010 hrs Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft on reconnaissance at 24000 feet. Four Hurricanes are scrambled; no interception.  Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

1645-1725 hrs Air raid alert. A formation of 20 ME 109 and CR 42 fighters patrols five miles off Grand Harbour at 16000 feet to draw Malta Hurricanes while four JU 88 bombers, escorted by another four ME 109s come over the Island at 17000 feet and bomb Ta Qali aerodrome.  Most bombs miss the target; only two fall on the aerodrome, including one at the east end which fails to explode.  One Hurricane on the ground is slightly damaged.  Twelve Hurricanes are airborne but the raiders evade contact. 

Military casualties  Stoker 1st Class, Carmelo Fenech, Royal Navy, HMS St.Angelo; Gunner Frank Raffety, 7 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 30 MARCH 1941

ROYAL NAVY  Rorqual sank Italian tanker Laura Corrado in Tyrrhenian Sea. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Engineer works by 24 Fortress Company were stopped to give priority to Grand Harbour Defences. A parachute Mine on the Military Police Barracks, Valletta, caused widespread damage. Royal Engineers again employed on clearance and demolition of unsafe structures.

 

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Posted by on March 30, 2021 in 1941, March 1941

 

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26 January 1941: Dockyard Defenders to Get Bravery Awards

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THREE ROYAL MALTA ARTILLERY MEN PUT FORWARD FOR AWARDS

Military_Cross

Military Cross

Lieutenant Francis William Angle, Royal Malta Artillery: Military Cross

“This officer of the Dockyard Defence Battery was in charge of a MkVI A multiple pom-pom gun which was situated in a most exposed position about 200 years from the berth where HMS Illustrious was when subjected to intense dive-bombing.  He stationed himself on the director tower, and by his excellent example and coolness in the face of heavy bombing, encouraged his men to fire the gun with telling effect on the enemy.”

Sergeant Leone Apap, Royal Malta Artillery: Military Medal

“In the temporary absence of his officer on duty elsewhere, as a member of the Dockyard Defence Battery, he displayed remarkable qualities of leadership, initiative and courage. During the intense dive-bombing attacks on HMS Illustrious, on 19th January 1941, his MkVI A pom-pom developed a series of faults which eventually put the gun out of action.  Instead of applying routine procedures, which would have kept the gun out of action for some considerable time, he sent his detachment, except for three, to a safer place, while he, with the assistance of the three, set about clearing the faults.  This he was successful in doing in a short time, whereupon he reassembled his men, and once again went into action with considerable effect.  This NCO has consistently displayed a devotion to duty, which deserves commendation.”

Military Medal

Military Medal

Bombardier Gerald Balzan, Royal Malta Artillery: Military Medal

During the intense attacks on HMS Illustrious, many large calibre bombs fell within a few yards of the gun position, enveloping it in dust and smoke.  Showers of debris fell all around, and the NCO in charge of the gun became a casualty, together with two other men…Balzan, however, showed considerable courage and initiative, rallying the remaining three men…By his action, Bdr Balzan kept the gun in action until the end of the raid, when he attended to the three casualties.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 JANUARY TO DAWN 27 JANUARY 1941

Weather  Fine; partially cloudy.

1528-1535 hrs Air raid alert for one JU 88 bomber which crosses the Island at 10000 feet on reconnaissance. Anti-aircraft guns open fire.  Two Hurricanes are scrambled and attack the JU 88, chasing it back to the coast of Sicily.  The aircraft is last seen with smoke coming from its port engine. 

Civilian casualties  Valletta  Mary Healey, age 66.

Enemy casualties  Leutnant Helmut Fund, pilot of reconnaissance JU 88.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 26 JANUARY 1941

AIR HQ 0540-1330 hrs Sunderland on anti-convoy patrol eastern Tunisian coast with striking force standing by. 0708 hrs sighted one tug and seven barges 72 miles south west of Lampedusa.  The striking force was not despatched owing to existing instructions governing action of aircraft against shipping at sea.  A Cant Z501 seen near the barges dropped bombs in the sea and left when the Sunderland turned towards it.  

LUQA 1330 hrs  69 Squadron (431 Flight):  1 Maryland reconnaissance Sicilian aerodromes hampered by bad weather.

(1) Times of Malta, 4 August 2013

 

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Posted by on January 26, 2021 in 1941, January 1941

 

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14 December 1940: Five Air Raids Over Malta

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Swordfish attack Italian heavy cruiser Pola at Naples

Swordfish attack Italian heavy cruiser Pola at Naples

A YOUNG MALTESE OFFICER JOINS HIS UNIT

2nd Lieutenant Maurice Agius recalls his first day as a commissioned officer in the Royal Malta Artillery:

“I left my parents’ house in Attard just after 8am.  My parents had joined the rest of the Agius clan in a large house in Attard, as it was considered to be safer than Sliema, where we all lived…

I was very self-conscious as I walked to Birkirkara, about a mile away, to get the bus – the Attard bus route had been stopped to save fuel  I was wearing my brand new service dress with one pip on each shoulder.  I had been granted a War Emergency King’s Commission as second lieutenant in the Royal Malta Artillery and I was to report to the Adjutant 2nd AA Regiment RMA…I felt rich overnight since my daily pay had been increased from one shilling and four pence to ten shillings and six pence.  A little anxious, I looked out for anyone in military uniform as I walked to the bus terminus.  Other Ranks would now be saluting me and I wanted to make sure that I returned their salute…

On my way to Paceville it struck me how little I knew of army matters… I was nineteen years of age, too young to get a licence to fire a shotgun but old enough to fire four 3.7 inch HAA guns.  I was a little apprehensive but very enthusiastic.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 DECEMBER TO DAWN 15 DECEMBER 1940

Weather  Fine.    

1000-1023 hrs  Air raid alert for some twelve enemy fighter aircraft approaching the Island at 20000 feet.  Six are spotted 12 miles due north of Grand Harbour.  Six Hurricane fighters are scrambled to intercept.  Observers at Marsaxlokk report six enemy raiders over Tarxien heading due west.  Marsaxlokk then reports ten aircraft over Hal Far heading towards the sea.  Anti-aircraft guns at Ta Karach and Delimara open fire, scattering the enemy formations.  Six CR 42 fighters are then seen over Rabat heading east, while four others head west over Tarxien.  No bombs are dropped.

1300-1340 hrs  Air raid alert for five enemy bombers and five fighters approaching the Island.  Four Malta fighters are scrambled.  The raiders cross the coast over Spinola at 16000 feet, passing from north to south.  Bombs are dropped in the sea off St Julians, on Gzira and Marsa, on Grand Harbour, on the eastern edge of Luqa aerodrome and between Giacomo and Hal Far.  The head away over Delimara.  Civilian property is damaged and some civilians injured.  Ack Ack guns engage and Malta fighters are airborne; no claims. 

1845 hrs  Two mines are reported at Mellieha by 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment..

2125 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy bombers which approaches the Island from the North East and drops bombs on land near Tal Bajjada searchlight and in the sea south of Delimara.  Searchlights are illuminated but unable to locate the raiders.

2209 hrs  Two Wellington bombers which approached the Island during the raid land safely at Luqa.

2220 hrs  Raiders passed sounds.

2225-2310 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy aircraft which approach the Island but do not cross the coast.  Nine bombs are dropped about a mile out to sea between Delimara and Benghaisa.

0045-0107 hrs  Air raid alert for a single enemy bomber which approaches from the north, skirts the coast of the Island and drops incendiary bombs in the Kalkara/Cospicua area as well as in the sea off Leonardo.  Searchlights are illuminated but unable to locate the raider.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 14 DECEMBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Swordfish aircraft 830 Squadron attack Naples, damaging the Italian heavy cruiser Pola. 

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  No 1 Works Company completed Hompesch Ack Ack gun position and accommodation.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 4; dealt with 4 (Italian 130lb x 1; 43lb x 3).

(1)  Recollections of a Malta HAA Gunner, Maurice G Agius, Allied Publications 2008

 

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Posted by on December 14, 2020 in 1940, December 1940

 

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29 November 1940: Olympus Restored After Bomb Damage

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DELAYED REFIT FINALLY COMPLETED

HMS Olympus

HMS Olympus

HM Submarine Olympus left Malta today after four months of extensive repairs. Olympus was undergoing refit in the Dockyard on 6 July when she was hit and badly damaged during a heavy air raid.  A bomb hit the submarine as she was lying in No 2 Dock, piercing the hull and puncturing the dock itself in 17 places. 

HMS Olympus is an Odin class submarine, originally designed for long-distance patrolling in Pacific waters. From 1939 she served out of Sri Lanka until being redeployed to the Mediterranean earlier this year. 

HARBOUR FIRE COMMAND STRENGTHS

  • Royal Malta Artillery 3 Officers, 135 other ranks (OR).
  • Haywharf Target Shed: 2 OR
  • Ta Xbiex: 2 OR
  • Delimara: 1 OR
  • Detention Barracks: 2 OR
  • Fort Tigne: 124 OR
  • Sliema Point: RE 6 OR
  • Sliema Point Battery: 4 OR

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 30 NOVEMBER 1940

Weather  Stormy and cold.

No air raids.

Military casualties  Gunner Edward Dean, 7th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 29 NOVEMBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Repairs and refit completed, HMS Olympus.

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Posted by on November 29, 2020 in 1940, November 1940

 

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24 October 1940: Anti-Italian Feeling Grows in Malta

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Kingsway or Strada Reale

Kingsway or Strada Reale

ITALIAN PILOT ATTACKED IN VALLETTA

Anti-Italian feeling is growing among some groups of Maltese civilians. Increasing numbers of letters are being sent to newspapers seeking the eradication of Italian language and cultural symbols from Maltese life. One correspondent commented: “Whenever we hear the siren, there are only Italian planes, directed by Italian pilots, dropping Italian bombs…are we going to leave the Italian language on our walls? Are we to continue to write our address in Italian?…Is the Italian language to be continued to flow in our Secondary Schools? Street names are already being changed from Italian to English in response to demand. However, while the Government has sounded a note of caution, some views published in the press have enflamed anti-Italian feelings.

A minority of individuals have taken the matter into their own hands, accusing others of being Italian sympathisers. And only days ago an angry crowd gathered around an Italian pilot prisoner of war who had been taken to Valletta for some shopping. According to one report: “There was a great commotion in Strada Reale and it was only through the great tact of the Police that something very distasteful did not happen…It took the Police a long time to dissuade the crowd not to tear him to pieces.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 OCTOBER TO DAWN 25 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

1131-1230 hrs Air raid alert for a formation of enemy aircraft approaching from the north. The come within ten to fifteen miles east of Valletta and circle. Six Hurricanes and two Gladiators are scrambled and the raiders turn away.

Military casualties  Gunner Emmanuel Callus, Royal Malta Artillery.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 24 OCTOBER

ROYAL NAVY Clearance sweep continued by Oropesa; four mines swept up in position 141 degrees Delimara 12.3 miles. Reconnaissance Swordfish and Skua Fleet Air Arm (FAA). Skua reported on landing seeing French 10000 ton liner coming out of the straits of Messina.

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties One Swordfish. Reconnaissance of Ionian Sea for enemy surface forays by Blenheim attached 431 Flight, Swordfish 830 Squadron FAA and Sunderland 228 Squadron; Glenn Martin 431 Flight; nil reports by all aircraft.

KALAFRANA Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 Squadrons. Sunderland 230 Squadron reconnaissance are Malta-Tripoli-Jerba Island; reported on landing seeing one Italian destroyer and one merchant vessel in convoy. Operational base for Sunderlands transferred to St Paul’s Bay owing to sea conditions at Kalafrana.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT Ack Ack firing practice: the target was towed by aircraft. 10 hits were registered.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS Petrol bombs tried out and proved successful. Tar used instead of oil, giving more sustained burning. Work began to prepare 500 to issue to Infantry Battalions.

(1) When Malta Stood Alone, Joseph Micallef, Interprint Ltd Malta, 1981  

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Posted by on October 24, 2020 in 1940, October 1940

 

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28 August 1940: Air Force in Malta to Expand

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EXPANDED AIR FORCE WILL NEED GUNS AND GROUNDS

The Air Force based on Malta is expected to expand significantly, according to a telegram from the War Office to Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief. The plans have raised concerns among military chiefs on the Island who will need further facilities to be developed to meet the needs of a greater force.

AOC Malta Air Commodore Forster Maynard (r) with Flt Lt G Burges.

AOC Malta Air Commodore Forster Maynard (r) with Flt Lt G Burges.

The Air Officer Commanding has already requested further dispersal areas for aircraft beyond the existing airfields. Such expansion would also require additional anti-aircraft protection.

Lt Gen Dobbie has written to the War Office strongly recommending that 12 Heavy and 10 Light Ack Ack guns now in transit on board fast ships be allotted to Malta, in addition to a similar number which have already been allocated and are expected to arrive imminently. He Also stressed that manning of the Heavy guns will require 27 Ack Ack Battery currently also in transit via “Operation Serenade” is posted to Malta. Light guns can be manned from local resources, if the War Office agrees to the commissioning of six additional Royal Malta Artillery officers to train immediately.

In a separate development, a secret and personal telegram from Vice Admiral Malta has confirmed that the following are expected to arrive Malta shortly by ship: 416 boxes Bofors ammunition, 16 Bofors barrels, 100 Bren guns, 10 Bofors guns, eight 3.7” Ack Ack guns, three predictors, two height finders, ten 4.5” Ack Ack barrels.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 AUGUST TO DAWN 29 AUGUST 1940

Weather  Fine.

1030-1044 hrs  Air raid warning for five enemy aircraft which approach the Island at 20000 feet to within six miles of the coastline, then turn away eastward. Four Hurricanes are scrambled but do not intercept. The raid does not materialize.

2110-2151 hrs  A searchlight co-operation exercise with Hurricane fighters is interrupted by an air raid warning for two enemy aircraft which approach to within ten miles east of the island. They circle for half an hour then turn away to the north east. The Hurricanes do not engage.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 28 AUGUST 1940

AIR HQ  One Sunderland reconnaissance westward of north African coast from Salita Island to 60 miles west of Algiers.

1st HEAVY REGIMENT, ROYAL MALTA ARTILLERY  Construction begun of mantlets for 8 inch guns at Fort Campbell. A second machine gun post is completed and a third started.

 

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Posted by on August 28, 2020 in 1940, August 1940

 

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1 August 1940: Guns On the Way but No Gunners

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GOVERNOR STRUGGLING TO RECRUIT FOR ARTILLERY

4.7″ Naval Gun now in use by Royal Malta Artillery

Eight heavy and ten light anti-aircraft guns are on their way to Malta, with more heavy guns to follow.  All will be accompanied by supplies of ammunition.  Welcoming the news, the Governor and Commander in Chief informed the War Office that there is significant doubt whether the Island will have sufficient servicemen to man the guns. 

In a telegram sent today, he reports that the rate of recruitment is slowing considerably in Malta, due to the limit of the local population and requirements of other units on the Island.  As a result it has been impossible to build up any reserve forces and no reinforcements are in place to man the new guns.  Without additional Royal Artillery or signals personnel from the Middle East, the all-important artillery will sit idle.

MALTA SHOULD LAUNCH AIR OFFENSIVES

Malta should be a base for striking and general reconnaissance air forces, says the Air Officer Commanding Mediterranean.  In a message to the Air Ministry in London, the AOC said the forces should be brought to the Island as a matter of urgency.  He believes that much of the sea reconnaissance currently undertaken by Sunderlands operating out of Alexandria could be operated successfully from Malta.   

The only attacking aircraft at Malta are Swordfish of the Fleet Air Arm and offensive operations from Malta are therefore limited.  The AOC proposes that one complete squadron of 15 aircraft would produce results out of all proportion to its size and recommends they be despatched as soon as other commitments allow. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 AUGUST TO DAWN 2 AUGUST 1940

Weather  Fine and warm.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 1 AUGUST 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Aircraft patrol reported one destroyer, two tankers, one large merchant vessel and many smaller ones in Cagliari Harbour, and three submarines leaving harbour. 

HARBOUR FIRE COMMAND 1000 hrs  Two 4.7” naval guns were installed at F Verandah, Marsa, and manned by 3rd Heavy Battery, Royal Malta Artillery.  These guns are known as ‘Barker Section’.   

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Strength of Battalion 25 Officers, 743 Other Ranks.

 

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Posted by on August 1, 2020 in 1940, August 1940

 

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19-25 July 1942: Malta Faces Starvation

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19 July 1942: Parthian Supplies Unloaded in Darkness

HUNGER

“There it was. A pitiable animated skeleton with ribs nearly protruding out of its sides of what was once called a dog. It was a small creature with what could have been a light brown coat. Its occasional whimpering, hardly audible, eyes glazed, it was shuffling madly with from one side of one shed and then to another, sniffing here and sniffing there, obviously crazed with hunger, completely oblivious to anything else. It did not even notice me, standing nearby a few yards away, just outside the workshop where I worked as an apprentice, near No 1 Dock in the Malta Dockyard in the Summer of 1942…

NWMA Malta

Malta was in the iron grip of a merciless siege and close to collapse. Fast blockade runners such as the ‘Welshman’ and the ‘Manxman’ and submarines improvised to carry cargo would occasionally break through the iron cordon to supply the beleaguered island. But supplies were hardly ever enough.

The Dockyard itself had become a depressing sight with half-sunken ships, ruined sheds and workshops, rubble every where and bomb craters still being filled. Electric power and telephone service was only intermittent and water supply available only in certain locations.  Into this nightmarish, surreal landscape, this pitiable creature, somehow or other, had found itself…

I felt deeply sorry for it. I would have willingly given it a small piece of my own meagre ration consisting of just a slim sandwich, but I was hesitant and somewhat fearful how it would react in that crazed state…the dog probably was a loving pet with an owner who cared greatly for it but being unable to feed it…let it loose blithely trusting Providence or hoping that somehow or other it would find its own food. It must have been a desperate and agonizing decision.

Even though Malta, at one time, had its own share of pet lovers, with pets, nearly everywhere, I have to say that I could not recall seeing any other dogs or even cats during that summer…”  Joseph V Stephens, 2012

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 JULY TO DAWN 20 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; no cloud.

0740-0758 hrs  Air raid alert for an approaching fighter sweep.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and encounter three ME 109s: no combat.

1440-1510 hrs  Air raid alert for a second fighter sweep by Italian RE 2001 aircraft, engaged by Malta fighters.  One Spitfire crashes near Luqa: the pilot is killed.

1820-1910 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are on patrol: no air raid develops.

2145-2230 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three aircraft approach the Island but are engaged by Spitfires: one raider is destroyed.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Joseph Otis, Royal Canadian Air Force, 426 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 19 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Parthian unloading stores at Marsaxlokk during the night.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson, three Beauforts from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire overshot when landing: pilot injured.  One aircraft crashed due to enemy action: pilot killed.

20 July 1942: Victory Kitchens

“By July 1942 life had become more and more unbearable. Kerosene (Paraffin Oil) which most people used for cooking, heating and for oil lamps was in extremely short supply. To save Kerosene in order to have a warm or hot meal my mother often turned off the oil lamps and sent us to bed early often before darkness had set in.

Queuing for kerosene (NWMA Malta)

Since a hot meal was now becoming a luxury and an exception, my mother decided to try the ‘Victory Kitchens.’  These were communal siege kitchens originally set up to provide one hot meal a day to people who had been bombed out of their homes, whose ration cards had been destroyed or lost in the bombing and had nothing to eat. But as the situation deteriorated more and more people, including those who still had roofs over their heads, resorted to using ‘Victory Kitchens’, bartering their regular ration coupons in exchange. At one time, I believe, more than half the island’s population were using these siege kitchens since, in most cases, it was the only way to get something hot to eat, little as it was.

It did not take long for my mother to realize that this pitiable fare was no kind of ‘victory’…I remember it was some kind of broth masquerading as soup with a few floating lumps in it that most people could not identify.  Occasionally, two or three peas or beans were added but the portions were never enough and afterwards you were still left hungry…

Regardless of their faults it should be remembered that these Victory Kitchens played a very important part feeding the people during the siege. It required great skills and much dedication by the Food Distribution Authorities in planning, organizing and putting into operation such an undertaking under living condition that were indescribable and against obstacles that were almost insurmountable.”  Joseph V Stephens, 2012

“I also remember visiting a ‘Victory Kitchen’ with my mother; this was after my pet goat had been killed and served to me as stew. I was only told this after I had finished my meal!”  Edward Caruana Galizia, November 2011

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 JULY TO DAWN 21 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; haze, no cloud.

0555-0605 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two aircraft approach to within 25 miles of the Island and then recede.

0830-0935 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol: no interceptions.

1135 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept reported enemy aircraft.  The air raid alert sounds but the raid does not materialise; there are no interceptions.

1345 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an approaching enemy formation.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are also airborne to act as a protective escort to minesweepers.

1356 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three JU 88s with twenty ME 109s and RE 2001s in escort approach Luqa from the south and attack the airfield, dropping high explosive and anti-personnel bombs across the area.  The Spitfires of 249 Squadron spot the raiders and follow them in, attacking the bombers as they release their bombs over the airfield.  The Spitfires struggle to gain enough height to catch the bombers as they turn away.  Sgt Wynn is shot up by a Messerschmitt fighter and slightly wounded in the leg.

1405-1545 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron carry out an air sea rescue search: no sightings.

1442 hrs  All clear.

1535-1650 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol: raid does not develop.

1640 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy raiders.  They spot 16 ME 109s in line abreast.  Sgt Irwin probably destroys one ME 109 and damages another.  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron are also scrambled to intercept but do not engage.

1645 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three JU 88s with fighter drop a large number of high explosive bombs on Luqa and the Safi strip from a high level.  One motor car is burned out.

1715 hrs  All clear.

2136-2242 hrs; 2252-0025 hrs  Air raid alerts.  Each time nine JU 88s approach singly and drop bombs in widely scattered areas, including Luqa and the Safi strip, and the western dispersal area of Ta Qali.  At Luqa a Baltimore is damaged.  At Birzebbuga five Army Other Ranks are killed and one Army Officer wounded.  Malta’s fighters airborne for both alerts and both Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage, destroying three Ju 88s.  Searchlights illuminate every target in the second raid.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Hugh Russell, Royal Canadian Air Force; Gunner Franky Agius, 3 Light Ack Ack (LAA) Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Francis Baldacchino, 3 LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Joseph Ellul, 3 LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Corporal William Hearl, 2nd Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment; Gunner Saviour Sillato, 3 LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Albert Zammit, 3 LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Sergeant Fidele Zarb, 3rd LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Crew of a JU 88 bomber, shot down into the sea near Gozo: Leutnant Siegfried Sack, Pilot – body was not recovered; Obergefreiter Arthur Blass, Air Gunner, and Unteroffizier Albert Mulen, Observer, were rescued by a RAF Launch and taken prisoner.  Crew of JU 88 bomber shot down and died: Feldwebel Karl Bonk, Pilot; Unteroffizier Johann Gerstel, Observer; Unteroffizier Josef Pohl, Air Gunner; Unteroffizier Gerhard Priewisch, Wireless Operator.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 20 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Submarine P42 arrived and entered Marsamxett.  Speedy swept QBB 197 and Marsaxlokk entrance. 1 Cutter cut. Swona swept Marsaxmett entrance.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufort, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Beauforts to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire pilot seat slid forward on landing, pushing control column forward and causing aircraft to tip up on nose: pilot uninjured.  Two Spitfires shot down into the sea: one pilot rescued injured; one pilot missing.

21 July 1942: 28 Spitfires Arrive as Bombers Stay Clear

OPERATION INSECT

Three freighters sailed from the UK on 2 July carrying 32 Spitfires to Gibraltar, where they arrived a week ago.  Yesterday 30 of the aircraft, along with four Swordfish and six Sea Hurricanes were loaded onto HMS Eagle ready to embark for Malta.  The carrier was protected by a convoy including Cairo, Charybdis, Antelope, Ithuriel, Vansittart, Westcott and Wrestler.

Italian submarine Dandolo

Earlier today the Italian submarine Dandolo sighted the convoy and attempted to attack but was driven off, damaged in a counter-attack by the escort’s destroyers.  Eagle was able to reach her rendezvous point without further incident and, with the exception of one defective aircraft, the Spitfires took off for Malta.  Another plane developed problems with its fuel tank and was forced to ditch in the sea.  The remaining 28 Spitfires landed safely.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 JULY TO DAWN 22 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly, slight; haze, no cloud.

0835-0855 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy fighter sweep.  Malta’s fighters are airborne; one ME 109 probably destroyed.

1005-1130 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol: nil report.

1110-1210 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an enemy fighter sweep.  They are bounced by Macchi 202s: no damage.

1410-1420 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy fighter sweep.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.

1540-1650 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are ordered into the air to act as escort to minesweepers.

1755-1855 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  They see four or five ME 109s but are unable to catch them.

0110-0150 hrs; 0205-0220 hrs; 0235-0255 hrs  Three air raid alerts for a total of five enemy aircraft which approach the Island singly.  None crosses the coast: all bombs are dropped in the sea.  During the last alert a Beaufighter destroys one JU 88.

Military casualties  Sergeant Lewis Evans, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Gunner Nazzareno Grima, 1 Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 21 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  A surface plot [reported] south of Filfla may have been Submarine P44 on the surface. She arrived at 2045 and was swept in Marsaxlokk by Speedy.  Parthian completed unload and proceeded to Dockyard to make good minor defects.  A further reinforcement of 28 Spitfires from HMS Eagle arrived without incident.  Torpedo-carrying Beauforts escorted by Beaufighters attacked an enemy convoy and claimed hits on one merchant vessel and one destroyer.  Q.B.B. 271 swept by Speedy and Hythe. 3 mines cut.

AIR HQ  Nine Beauforts escorted by six Beaufighters attacked a convoy of two destroyers and one 7000 ton merchant vessel in position 240 degrees Cape Ghergambo, 8 miles course southerly.  The merchant vessel was hit by at least three torpedoes and white smoke poured form it; this was later confirmed by photos.  One of the destroyers was also hit.

Arrivals  One DC3 from Bilbeis; one Wellington from Shandur; one Blenheim from Gibraltar; four Beaufighters from ECDU.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Beaufort to LG 224; one DC3 to Bilbeis.

TA QALI  Preparations are made for the arrival of further Spitfires: 16 arrived during the morning.

24 FORTRESS COMPANY, ROYAL ENGINEERS  A party from No 2 Section of one Sergeant and two Other Ranks blew a series of holes at water level in SS Talabot (partly submerged in harbour) to release oil which was interfering with cargo salvage work.  Plastic high explosive was used: very effective.

22 July 1942: ‘Fighting Tenth’ Return to Malta

NWMA Malta

The arrival of P42 yesterday may have triggered a false alarm, with an unconfirmed report of a periscope off Grand Harbour.  However, good news has followed the submarine’s arrival, as it signals the return to Malta of the Tenth Submarine Flotilla, after an absence of nearly three months.

Known as the ‘Fighting Tenth’, the submarine force left Lazaretto ten weeks ago when the severity of enemy bombardment risked their complete destruction.  Vice Admiral, Malta has now decided that the reduced scale of mining and air attacks and the successful clearance of all approach channels to the Island by minesweepers makes it safe enough to allow the submarines to return.

The Flotilla Captain and his Staff arrived today and it is expected that by the end of the month at least three submarines of the Flotilla will again be operating from Malta.

AJAX MASTER ILL

HMS Ajax

An urgent telegram was sent to the War Office today asking for a replacement for the master of Ajax, who has been ill from prolonged stomach trouble.  A solution is needed within fourteen days, as the ship is expected to embark soon on operations.  Ajax, her officers and crew have been praised for their valiant service during several Malta convoys.  If no temporary relief can be found, the chief officer may be promoted to hold the fort.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 JULY TO DAWN 23 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; slight cloud.

0805-0915 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy raiders which carry out a fighter sweep: no engagement.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne on shipping cover.

1110 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three JU88s escorted by nine ME 109s drop high explosives on Luqa airfield and anti-personnel bombs in the Marsa valley, causing some civilian and RAF casualties.  Heavy Ack Ack engage; Malta fighters destroy two ME 109s.

1120-1200 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron carry out a search for missing pilots.  They see three oil patches on the water.  As he approaches to land, P/O Paradis is told to stand off until a threatened raid on Ta Qali has passed.  He is not heard of again.

1144 hrs  All clear.

1225-1410 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron search for P/O Paradis: nothing found.

1415 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy raiders: no engagement.

1445 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six JU 88s escorted by twenty fighters attack Kalafrana, Hal Far and Safi strip with high explosives and anti-personnel bombs, causing civilian and RAF casualties. Heavy Ack Ack fire without result.

1635-1700 hrs  Air raid alert for two ME 109s which circle the Island. Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne: no engagement.

Night  Two air alerts for a total of eight Italian and German bombers which approach the Island singly, dropping 15kg and 50kg bombs on Luqa, Tal Handaq and Wardia.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and Malta night fighters are airborne for both alerts.  During the first raid, searchlights effect three illuminations and a Beaufighter destroys one JU 88 ten miles north of the Island.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Joseph Paradis, Royal Canadian Air Force; Sergeant Jack Wallworth, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Walter Mifsud, age 14; Edward Mifsud, age 12.  Hamrun  Concetta Borg, age 66.  Rabat  Paul Zammit, age 13.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 22 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Captain (S) 10th Submarine Flotilla and his staff arrived by air from the Middle East.  A doubtful report of a periscope being sighted off Grand Harbour was not confirmed.  Hythe and motor launches commenced sweeping new area.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One DC3 from Bilbeis; one Wellington, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Beaufighter to EDCU; one Blenheim to LG 224; one DC3 to Bilbeis.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot missing believed killed.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Numerous anti-personnel bombs dropped on billets occupied by No1 Works Company, 1 Sapper is slightly injured.

23 July 1942: Dog Fights Over Malta

ITALIAN CAPTURED

Macchi 202 in flight

Sergente Maggiore Bruno Di Pauli was taken prisoner this afternoon after being plucked from the sea by the RAF rescue launch.  The Italian pilot was in a formation of Italian and German fighters escorting a raid on Luqa aerodrome at just after four o’clock when his Macchi 202 was hit by anti-aircraft fire.  With six Spitfires of 249 Squadron hot on his tail, Di Pauli decided to eject from the aircraft and was seen parachuting down into the sea.  The Spitfire pilots alerted headquarters and an air sea rescue patrol was launched within the hour.  Di Pauli was picked up and brought ashore where he was taken in for interrogation.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 JULY TO DAWN 24 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; 17% medium cloud.

0720 hrs  The ‘usual’ early morning patrol by three ME 109s.

0800-0910 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled for reported enemy aircraft: raid does not materialise.

1010 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.

1021 hrs  Air raid alert.  While three ME 109s patrol alone, three JU 88s with seven ME 109s and five RE 2001s as escort attack Luqa, dropping many anti-personnel bombs from a high level on the camp and dispersal areas, and high explosive bombs to the south of Luqa village.  Several unexploded bombs are found near the windmill.  Anti-personnel bombs are also dropped between Hamrun and the RAF station.  One Spitfire and a petrol bowser are destroyed.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

The Spitfires of 249 Squadron see the JU 88s and ME 109s, and then encounter five RE 2001s covering the withdrawal of bombers after the raid.  Sgt Beurling destroys one RE 2001 and damages a JU 88.  S/Ldr Mitchell destroys a JU 88 and F/Lt Hetherington damages another.

1046 hrs  All clear.

1545 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an approaching enemy formation.

1618-1630 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five JU 88s with fifteen ME 109s and some Macchi 202s as escort attack Luqa, dropping high explosive and anti-personnel bombs from a high level and causing craters on the aerodrome: two make the runway temporarily unserviceable.  One Baltimore is damaged.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Malta Spitfires attack the raiders and destroy two ME 109s and one Macchi 202, probably destroy two ME 109s and damage another three ME 109s and one Macchi. F/Lt Watts and P/O McElroy between them damage one ME 109; P/O Round damages another.

1650-1810 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron carry out an air sea rescue patrol.  They see an Italian pilot: he is picked up and taken prisoner.

Night  No enemy action.

Military casualties  Flying Officer David William Kent, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 229 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Sergente Maggiore Bruno Di Pauli, Macchi 202 fighter pilot, picked up from the sea and taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 23 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Beryl carried out gun trials at sea.

AIR HQ  Reconnaissance of Gerbini shows that the number of JU 88s at Gerbini has almost doubled to 23.  One of the satellites has also come into use at the aerodrome, with 12 fighters present.  Two more satellites are under construction which will bring the total to five.

Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Wellington to LG 224; three Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Hurricane engine cut out; aircraft crashed on landing: pilot killed.  One Spitfire missing from patrol: pilot missing.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Anti-personnel bombs again dropped near billets occupied by No 1 Works Company, RE.

24 July 1942: Malta Fighters Pre-emptive Strikes

Spitfire re-fuelled, re-armed and ready (NWMA Malta)

PARK’S NEW STRATEGY FOR MALTA

Air Vice-Marshal Sir Keith Park is to introduce new tactics in the RAF battle for the skies over Malta.  After reviewing fighter performance over recent weeks, the new Air Officer Commanding has recognised that the Island’s Spitfires have been forced to fight defensively.  Now the AOC has decided to take the battle to the enemy.

Under the ‘Forward Interception Plan’ due to take effect from tomorrow, RAF Squadrons will be airborne to intercept enemy formations well before they reach the archipelago.  Making use of the increased numbers of Spitfires at his disposal, as well as improved radar and faster take-off times, three Squadrons will now take part in each pre-emptive strike: the first to engage advance fighter formations from out of the sun; the second to engage any close fighter escort and the third to attack bombers head-on.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 JULY TO DAWN 25 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0800-0830 hrs  Air raid alert. Two ME 109s are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack firing pointer rounds.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept: they chase the two Messerschmitts until they are lost to view.

1030-1120 hrs  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to cover the Air Sea Rescue Launch off Kalafrana Bay.

1039 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four JU88s with a fighter escort of twenty ME 109s are intercepted by Malta fighters, which destroy three JU 88s and one ME 109, and damage the remaining JU 88 and two ME 109s; Heavy Ack Ack also engage.  As a result many bombs are jettisoned in widely different areas, including Mosta and Ta Qali, as well as Luqa and the Safi strip.  The two Spitfires of 603 Squadron see two of the JU 88s and pursue them for eight miles, then return to cover duties.

1113 hrs  All clear.

1135-1220 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron carry out a search but find nothing.  One returns early.

1352-1405 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three unidentified fighters cross the coast from the south west at 25000 feet.

1630 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron and eight of 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  One Spitfire returns early.

1710 hrs  Air raid alert.  One section of Spitfires dives on five JU 88s and four ME 109s.  The remaining Messerschmitts break off their formation to attack the other section of Spitfires, which counter-attack.  P/O Jones (249) has a dog-fight with three pairs of ME 109s with no claims.  Malta fighters damage one JU 88 and one ME 109.

1752-1819 hrs  Five JU88s with fighter escort attack Luqa, landing a direct hit on the HQ building of D Coy, 2nd Royal West Kent Regt at Ta Kandia, killing one Other Rank and wounding two Officers, including the Company Commander, and four Other Ranks. At Qrendi one Other Rank of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt is wounded by anti-personnel bomb splinters.  One serviceable Beaufort is burned out, two other Beauforts and one Spitfire are damaged.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: no claims.

2215-2245 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three aircraft approach singly but do not cross the coast; all bombs are dropped in the sea.

Military casualties  Sergeant John Green, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Private Rodney Kent, 2nd Battalion, the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment; Fusilier John Millar, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Civilian casualties  Luqa  Carmel Mallia, age 74.  Rabat  Carmela Borg, age 10.  Zurrieq  Josephine Bondin, 10 mths;  Catherine Bugeja, age 13; Jane Bugeja, age 11; Rev Joseph Cuschieri, age 63; Carmel Ellul, age 70; Anthony Gauci, age 60; Joseph Saydon, age 48; Carmel Schembri, age 16; Joseph Spiteri, 3 mths; Saviour Zammit, age 54; Rev Joseph Zammit Psaila, age 68.

Enemy casualties  Crew of JU 88 bomber shot down: Leutnant Sepp Hoermann, Pilot, Obergefreiter Josef Popp, Observer, and Unteroffizier Wolfram Quass, Air Gunner, died; Leutnant Heinz Heuser, Wireless Operator managed to bale out and land safely; he was taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 24 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Fleet Sweepers cleared new channel except for 100 yards along inshore edge. 13 mines cut.  Beauforts escorted by Beaufighters attacked a convoy off Cape Gheroghambo and hit and set on fire one merchant vessel. Three Beauforts did not return.

AIR HQ  Six Beauforts escorted by nine Beaufighters attacked a southbound convoy consisting of two destroyers and three other vessels, including a 7000 ton merchantman laden with deck cargo, in position 273 degrees Cape Geroghambo 10 miles.  One direct hit on a merchant vessel resulted in much smoke and flame.  One of the destroyers was machine-gunned.  Photos taken later showed the merchant vessel to be in tow, stern foremost, down by the bows and blazing.  The fire had reached the engine room.  [Subsequently this same merchant vessel was photographed at Argostoli completely burned out.]

Arrivals  One DC3 from Bilbeis; one Catalina, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Catalina to Aboukir; one DC3 to Bilbeis.  Transit aircraft missing  One Wellington en route from Gibraltar to Malta.

TA QALI  A signal was received today from Headquarters, Mediterranean indicating that a General Warning is in effect.  Instructions by telephone state that no action should be taken.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Anti-personnel bombs again dropped near billets occupied No 1 Works Company.

25 July 1942: Malta Ready for ‘General Alarm’

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 25 JULY 42

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

1.  Enemy air activity fighter sweeps first three days, thereafter regular two main raids daily each about 5 JU 88 and 17 (or 15) fighters.  Anti-personnel and high explosive bombs on aerodromes.  Night raiders average 5 nightly except Monday when Ack Ack destroyed three JU 88 out of 16.

Jamming of RDF etc continues.  Counter measures being investigated. 

Enemy aircraft casualties Ack Ack destroyed three JU 88 at night.  RAF destroyed seven bombers, ten fighters; probably destroyed four fighters; damaged six bombers, six fighters.

Imtarfa Hospital

2.  Some damage to military billets and Imtarfa hospital.  Casualties 2 (or 6) Other Ranks killed 2 officers eleven Other Ranks wounded.

3.  Increased security precautions being taken on Gozo.

IMPORTANT NOTICE

If there is no air raid in progress at 12 o’clock noon today, there will be a test of the new signal for the ‘General Alarm’.  The sirens will be sounded as though for an air-raid five times with intervals of half a minute between each sounding.  Half a minute after the last time the ‘All Clear’ will be sounded.  At the same time the church bells will be rung.  The public should not be alarmed; it will be nothing but a TEST.  If there is an air-raid in progress at noon, the test will be held immediately the raid is over. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 JULY TO DAWN 26 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0700-0758 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four ME109s crossed the Island, and are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack with pointer rounds.  Fighters do not engage.

0800-0825 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

1125-1200 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to cover shipping near Zonqor.

1128-1155 hrs  Air raid alert. Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are sent up to avoid an approaching bombing raid.  Five JU88s drop high explosive bombs on Ta Qali in the area west of No 15 Cave; some are suspected to be delayed action bombs.  Telephone communications are slightly disrupted.  Heavy Ack Ack fire.

1200 hrs  The General Warning Alarm is sounded throughout the Island as a test.

1325-1435 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron carry out a patrol: nil report.

1355-1520 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol.

1438-1510 hrs  Air raid alert.  The Spitfires of 603 Squadron see four JU 88s with an escort of fifteen fighters but are unable to intercept before the bombers carry out a raid on Hal Far.  P/O Glazebrook destroys a Macchi 202; other fighters damage JU 88s.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

1615-1630 hrs; 1632-1700 hrs  Air raid alerts for a fighter sweep by three ME 109s.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled: no interceptions.

1920-1945 hrs  Air raid alert for another fighter sweep by three ME 109s.

2325-2335 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

0405-0425 hrs   Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft approach but do not cross the coast; bombs are dropped in the sea.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 25 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  New Channel (QBB 273) cleared of mines; 2 cut.

AIR HQ  Reconnaissance shows that the number of JU 88s at Comiso has risen to 37 from 11 last week.

Arrivals  One Sunderland from Gibraltar; one DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  One Hudson, one Sunderland to Gibraltar; two Wellingtons to LG 224; one DC3 to Bilbeis.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 97.  Dealt with: High Explosives 18, including 6 delayed-action ( 2 x 500kg; 11 x 250kg; 5 x 50kg); 400 anti-personnel bombs.

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

 

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29 May 1942: Wellington Destroyed by Friendly Fire – Crewmen Killed

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ROYAL MALTA ARTILLERY RESCUE SURVIVORS

A Wellington bomber of 104 Squadron returning from a successful bombing mission over Catania crashed today near Attard, killing four of the crew and injuring the other two.  It is believed that the aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire, possibly due to being wrongly identified as an attacking enemy plane.

The Wellington crashed on L’Imrihel Feature, killing three of the crew on impact.  Personnel of 6th Heavy Ack Ack, Royal Malta Artillery, managed to rescue the injured pilot, Sgt R Hills, and the second pilot, Sgt E Martin who was seriously wounded.  Before they could return for the final crew member, the aircraft’s petrol tanks exploded, killing him instantly.

MS Reichenfels

MALTA RECONNAISSANCE PILOTS SPOT CONVOY TARGET

A large convoy has been seen by aerial reconnaissance loading at Naples.  Three of these ships, the 7800 ton German ‘Reichenfels’ and two 6500 ton Lenici class ships were today photographed off Pantelleria, heading towards Tripoli under protective destroyer escort.

ITALIANS PILOT STUKAS

Four enemy aircraft which dropped bombs on Mellieha and Dingli overnight are believed to be JU 87s flown by Italian pilots.  The aircraft caused some confusion among observers who were at first unable to identify them.  They reported that the shape and markings suggested JU 87s but the aircraft were not operating in the usual agressive manner of the Stuka dive-bomber.

The pilot of a Beaufighter on patrol with Malta Night Fighter Unit later confirmed that he had engaged with JU 87s at the time of the raid, damaging one.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 MAY TO DAWN 30 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly, moderate to fresh; haze.

0510-0605 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on shipping reconnaissance but sight nothing.

0820 hrs  Air raid alert.

0822-0926 hrs  Three Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa patrol the Island: no combat.

1202 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far and four of 249 Squadron Ta Qali to intercept incoming enemy aircraft.

1235 hrs  Air raid alerts sounds as the formation approaches the Island.  There is no engagement with Malta fighters.

1305 hrs  All clear.

1458-1622 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to patrol for enemy fighters: no interceptions.

1638-1748 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron scrambled from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

1715-1825 hrs  Enemy fighters are reported approaching the Island. Seven Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled, climbing to intercept the hostile aircraft.  They sight two but no interceptions take place.

1750 hrs  The air raid alerts sounds as the fighters near the coast.  They carry out a fighter sweep.

1825 hrs  All clear.

2310 hrs  A Wellington bomber returning from operations crashes near Tal Hlas.

0009-0244 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne from Luqa on intercept patrol.

0025 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for a small formation of enemy bombers approaching the Island.  One JU 88 and four other unidentified bombers drop bombs near Mellieha and Dingli.  The Beaufighter engages and damages one aircraft, identified as a JU 87.

0212 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialize.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant George Davis, Royal Canadian Air Force, 104 Squadron, RAF; Sergeant Andrew McColl,  Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Sergeant Elwyn Roberts, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Air Force (VR), 104 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Kenneth Ross, Air Gunner, Royal Air Force, 104 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 29 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  St Angelo and Trusty Star continued minesweeping.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Heliopolis; one CW 20 from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  2145 hrs  Four Albacores and two Swordfish of the NAS were airborne on strike mission.  The convoy consisting of three merchant vessels and three destroyers was located off the Tunisian coast but was covered by a thick fog patch 300 feet deep, 15 miles long and 10 miles across.  No attack was possible and all the aircraft returned with their torpedoes at 0320 hrs.

LUQA  0930-1215 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Lampedusa, Trapani and Palermo.  1505-1707 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance of Messina Harbour and St Paul’s Bay.  2117-0310 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on armed search Gulf of Gabies.  One Wellington 104 Squadron despatched from Luqa to bomb Catania aerodrome.  Bombs landed in the target area: many fires are seen.  On returning to base the aircraft crashed near Attard, killing four of the crew and injuring the pilot and second pilot.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  Working parties Luqa aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  1230 hrs  Working parties for pen-building and crater filling at Luqa finished and returned to billets.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1000 hrs  Pte Porter is buried at Imtarfa Cemetery.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 5; dealt with 5 (1 x 500kg, 3 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 vehicles, 4 Officers, 130-150 Other Ranks at Safi strip widening and levelling runway.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Day working parties building pens for aircraft 6 Officers 200 Other Ranks.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.  1230 hrs  Working party of 50 men tin-loading at Luqa.

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Posted by on May 29, 2017 in 1942, May 1942

 

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