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23 May 1942: German Air Force Retreat From Sicily

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GOVERNOR REPORTS FEWER LUFTWAFFE BOMBERS IN SICILY

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

Spitfires over Malta

Enemy.  Military situation report for week ending 23/5.  Day bombing effort was almost negligible.  Total of five JU 88s, eight Cants only.  Also fifteen fighter bombers – large number of fighter sweeps continue using mainly ME 109s, some Macchi 202s and Re 2001s.  Total of 25 night bombers mostly Br 20s.  Photo-reconnaissance shows further decrease [German Air Force] in Sicily; all JU 87s now gone.  Approx only 100 JU 88s remain.  Considerable decrease fighters also.

Following enemy aircraft claimed during week.  By Ack Ack: damaged 2 JU 88, 1 Macchi 202.  By RAF: destroyed 1 JU 88, 2 Br 20, 2 Cant, 13 ME 109, 1 Macchi 202, 5 Re 2001; probably destroyed 1 Br 20, 1 Cant, 5 ME 109, 2 Re 2001; damaged 2 Do 24, 2 Cant, 4 ME 109, 2 Macchi, 4 Re 2001.

Slight E boat activity continues.  Italian Petty Officer Urisoker taken 19/5.  On special mission recce coast defences Zonqor point to two miles north.  Specialist in Davis apparatus, dressed in diving suit for submerging when fired upon.  Full report through naval channels.  On 20/5 spy with [wireless-transmission] set, rations etc caught.  Pro-Italian Maltese landed by motor boat from Sicily.  Unable to scale cliffs and captured.  Full report through defence security channels.

Own troops.  Large working parties for RAF continue.  500 pen-building; 300 servicing Spitfires; 150 servicing bombing up Wellingtons.  Military damage negligible during week.  Army Bomb Disposal Section disposed 31 UXB totaling six and a half tons.  Casualties one Other Rank killed; three Other Ranks wounded.  Further 17 Spitfires arrived also Wellingtons.

Conclusion.  Enemy air activity slackening further.  Movement of German Air Force elsewhere continues.  Indication that raids by E boats or human torpedoes or landing raids being considered by enemy.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 MAY TO DAWN 24 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly.

0716 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for an incoming plot of five Cant 1007s in ‘vic’ (1) formation with a large escort of RE 2001s, ME 109s and Macchi 200s, approaching the Island from the north.  12 Spitfires 126 and 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa.  Sgt McConnell, Sgt James and P/O Tilly destroy two Re 2001s and one ME 109.  P/O Jones probably destroys one Cant and F/Sgt Schade one ME 109.  Sgt Jones damages one Cant 1007 and one Re 2001; F/Sgt Schade damages one ME 109.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat: the pilot is unhurt.

0720 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far but do not engage.

0739-0745 hrs  Cant bombers drop ten 100kg bombs each on Ta Qali, making craters at dispersal points.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0835 hrs  The alert sounds for a small number of enemy fighters on patrol.  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept.  They land at 0919 hrs without engagement.

0926 hrs; 0949 hrs  Alerts sound for small numbers of enemy fighters patrolling near the Island.

1400-1430 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne: nil report.

1611 hrs  Four ME 109s approach the Island and make a reconnaissance flight over all three aerodromes.  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far.  They land at 1654 hrs with no interceptions.

1855-1923 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali airborne to intercept a fighter sweep: nil report.

1905-2015 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali and four Spitfires 601 Squadron from Luqa are scrambled for incoming fighters: nil report.

2020 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept two enemy aircraft approaching the Island.  The two single aircraft come to within 30 miles of the Island and then recede.  The four Spitfires land at 2110 hrs without engagement.

2145-2217 hrs, 2145-0010 hrs; 2235-2250 hrs  One Beaufighter each time is scrambled from Luqa on patrol: no interceptions.

2212-2257 hrs  ME 109s approach the Island from the south east and drop bombs on Hal Far.  JU 88s cross the coast and drop bombs on Luqa and Safi, and on Ta Qali, rendering the aerodrome unserviceable for the night.

A delivery Wellington crashes on landing: Sgt Merrit is seriously wounded; other members of the crew have minor injuries.

Military casualties  WO II Carmelo Zahra, (BSM), 2nd Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; WO II Cyril May, (CSM), 8th Battalion, Manchester Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Kirkop  Spiro Bartolo, age 73.  Luqa  Andrew Farrugia, age 8.  Sliema  Antonia Pace, age 77.  Zejtun  Vincent Axisa, age 68.  Zurrieq  Carmel Axiaq, age 40.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 23 MAY 1942

HMS Porpoise

ROYAL NAVY  The Commander in Chief ordered Porpoise to be sailed from Alexandria to Malta with stores.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Five Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Lodestar to Heliopolis.

HAL FAR  2130 hrs  Three Albacores of the NAS went out after a convoy: no sightings.

LUQA  0705-0914 hrs  One Spitfire  photo-reconnaissance of east Sicilian aerodromes and Messina Harbour.

TA QALI  All stood down until 1300 hrs except for skeleton staffs.  Inspector General Air Marshal Ludlow Hewitt visits Station.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  0900-1700 hrs  Working party of 9 Officers and 200 Other Ranks plus 8 x 15 cwt trucks daily for reconstruction of pens for aircraft at Luqa aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working parties at Luqa and Ospizio continued.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Pte Merson was slightly injured by bomb splinter at Hal Far.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 11; dealt with 3 (1 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg, 1 Italian Thermos bomb).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 vehicles, 4 Officers and 120-150 Other Ranks building pens on Hal Far aerodrome.

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

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Working party at Ta Qali 50 men and 100 standing by.  CSM May died in Imtarfa Hospital.

(1)  A tight V formation of one lead aircraft and one wingman close behind on each side – more commonly used by the Royal Air Force

 

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Posted by on May 23, 2017 in 1942, May 1942

 

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8 May 1942: “Work On Through Raids” Orders Airfield Command

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CONTINUOUS WORKING ESSENTIAL TO KEEP SPITFIRES FLYING

Wing Commander E J Gracie, Station Commander at Ta Qali, today addressed personnel of infantry units supplying working parties on the airfield.  He announced that some 60 Spitfires are due to arrive on the Island.  His speech stressed the importance of obtaining air supremacy over the Island.  To this end, the orders are for planes to be serviced and bomb craters repaired at all costs.  Every available plane must be put in the air, and working parties must now carry working on during the air raids.

HMS Olympus in Malta

LOSS OF OLYMPUS

A Malta-based submarine heading home to the United Kingdom is believed lost today, after a handful of men from the vessel were rescued from the sea.  At just after eight this morning, members of C Company, 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment, manning a coastal defence post spotted movement about a mile offshore.  They counted some thirteen men, swimming towards the coast.  An hour later the first of the swimmers reached the shore and several soldiers took to the water to help the eleven of them who made it to land.

HM Submarine Olympus sailed for Gibraltar under cover of darkness at 0430 hours this morning with a total of 98 men on board including 55 of her own crew plus 43 survivors from three Royal Navy vessels which had previously been sunk in air raids on Malta. Survivors said she struck a mine at 0500 hours about seven miles offshore, and went down.

All available boats were sent out to search the spot but so far there are only twelve survivors (including those who swam ashore): three of these are wounded. Three further bodies have been recovered. Mine-sweepers have embarked on an immediate operation to clear the Grand Harbour entrance channel.

Sir William Dobbie

SIR WILLIAM DOBBIE’S FAREWELL MESSAGE

The speed and top secret nature of the former Governor’s departure left no opportunity for a farewell broadcast to the people of Malta.  Sir William Dobbie’s words are read for him via Rediffusion:

“I leave Malta with the greatest regret.  I have been here for two eventful years, and I had hoped I would be able to see Malta through her present difficulties at any rate.  But that was not to be.  During my two years we have been through stirring times together, times which I will never forget.

I am glad I have had this experience because it has enabled me to get to know and appreciate the people of Malta.  I have seen them facing experiences which were unfamiliar to them, and facing them with the determination and courage of veteran soldiers…I have marvelled at the way they have accepted hardships and disasters with cheerfulness, and I consider that the people of Malta have rightly earned the admiration of the whole world, an admiration crystalised by the award of the George Cross to the Island…

I am sure that in God’s good providence she will in due course emerge out of her difficulties and into smoother water.  Until then she will endure, and ensure the final victory.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 MAY TO DAWN 9 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

0622 hrs  Two ME 109s carry out a patrol to the south of the Island.  One JU88 drops bombs on Zeitun, killing five civilians and injuring many more.

0635-0725 hrs  Two Spitfires 126 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali to intercept approaching enemy aircraft, which they engage 30 miles north of the Island.  P/O Tilley shoots down one ME 109.

0655 hrs  Delayed action bombs explode in Marsaxlokk Bay.

0656 hrs  ME 109 fighters carry out a sweep of the Island, followed by one JU88 on reconnaissance.

0715 hrs  Members of B Coy 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt are called to Zejtun to help to recover civilians from the debris.

0813 hrs  Raiders passed.

0835 hrs  Six JU 88s and fifteen JU 87s escorted by numerous ME 109s are observed heading towards the Island.

0900-1005 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron and four Hurricanes 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to engage the incoming formations.

0910 hrs  Seven Hurricanes are scrambled from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft.  One JU 88 is claimed as damaged.

0930-0950 hrs  Three JU 88s at 2-3000 feet and six ME 109s at 200-1000 feet are engaged by guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery.  One ME 109 claimed destroyed.

0945 hrs  Malta’s fighters attack the JU 88s and a number of ME 109s and Macchi fighters five miles south of the Island.  P/O Tilley and P/O Major (126 Squadron) damage one ME 109.  Of the Hurricanes, Sgt Tweedale claims one JU 88 and one ME 109 destroyed and one ME 109 probably destroyed.  One ME 109 crashes on Marsa: the pilot, Unteroffizier Heinrich Becker, is captured.  Sgt Dodd claims one Macchi probably destroyed.  Sgt Finlay is forced to land at Luqa; he is unhurt.  Sgt Boyd destroys one JU 88 before he is shot up and makes a belly landing at Ta Qali, unhurt.  Sgts Tweedale and Dodd land at Hal Far at 1000 hrs.

0950 hrs  Six JU 88s dive-bomb Hal Far and Safi.  Twelve JU 87s dive-bomb Luqa and the Safi strip.  Bombs land on the perimeter of Luqa aerodrome but the  runways remain serviceable.  One reservoir receives a direct hit and water flows through the camp.

Three JU 87s break away and make a deliberate attack on Tal Handaq gun position and Giacomo Heavy Ack Ack Battery.  Ack Ack light machine guns of 11th Bn Lancashire Regt engage JU 87s, claiming many strikes and causing certain damage to at least one JU 87.

Six ME 109 fighter bombers drop bombs on Marsaxlokk Bay and Dowdall’s Hotel, quarters of E Coy 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt.  Two NCOs attending a training course are killed and four others injured, along with two Privates. A sentry of Royal Malta Artillery is also killed.

1055 hrs  One JU 88 carries out reconnaissance of the Island.

1230 hrs  ME 109s patrol to the south of the Island.

1326 hrs   9 JU 88s and 21 JU 87s with a large fighter escort approach the Island.  Three JU 87s break from the formation and attack Naxxar gun position; one JU 87 attacks Salina gun position.

1340 hrs  Six JU 88s dive bomb and machine-gun Luqa aerodrome, causing craters on the north side of the runway and damaging one Hurricane.  The aerodrome remains serviceable.  Twenty high explosive bombs are dropped on the Loreto Church area near Safi strip.  Five ME 109 fighter bombers attack the Luqa dispersal areas and Mqabba.

1345 hrs  15 JU 87s drop 30 high explosive bombs on Ta Qali camp. causing craters near the cottages and on top of the caves.  F/Lt Connell, proceeding off duty, is passing a bomb when it explodes: he is suffering from shock.

1350 hrs  One gun of 225 LAA engages two JU 88s at 2000 feet: no claims.

1405 hrs  Raiders passed.

1719 hrs  Five Cant 1007s and one JU 88 with an escort of ME 109s approach the Island.  They fly down the coast and drop bombs on Marsa and Floriana, destroying two civilian buses and damaging six more.  Four civilians are killed and twelve wounded.  Bombs around the HQ and billets of 1st Bn Cheshire Regt kill two Other Ranks and cause several more civilian casualties.

1821 hrs  Raiders passed.

1850-1905 hrs  One JU88 with fighter escort attacks the Grand Harbour area.

Night  Overnight working parties on the aerodromes total 1434 men, plus 81 troops on salvage & rescue work for the civil government.  During four air raid alerts, Italian and German aircraft approach the Island singly and in pairs, and drop high explosive bombs on the Luqa area and incendiaries on the north of the Island.  Other bombs are dropped in the sea.

2215-2324 hrs  Two bombers drop bombs on Luqa, and between Delimara and Benghaisa.  Six high explosive bombs are dropped on the Loreto Church area near the Safi strip.

2240-2335 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

0137 hrs  Five single bombers drop incendiary and anti-personnel bombs in the Baida Ridge area and in the sea off Benghaisa.

Military casualties  HMS Olympus casualty list CLICK HERE

Corporal Stanley Cook, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Leading Aircraftsman Douglas Clarke, Royal Air Force (VR); Flight Sergeant Jack Davis, Royal Air Force; Aircraftsman John Farrugia-Gay, Royal Air Force (VR); Corporal Frank Lockwood, Royal Air Force; Leading Aircraftsman John McCarty, Royal Air Force (VR); Corporal Sidney Parmentier, Royal Air Force (VR).

Bombardier Paul Attard, 2 HAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Corporal William Connor, 2nd Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment; Private Thomas Edwards, 1st Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment; Private Henry Lodwick, 1st Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment; Gunner Charles Redman, 3 LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Lance Corporal Edmund Shepherd, 2nd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Birzebbuga  Randa Zammit, age 30.  Floriana  Francis Agius, age 30; Teresa Carbone, age 36; George Farrugia, age 51; Francis Sammut, age 70.  Gzira  Anthony Pike, age 4.  Msida  Manoel Goura, age 49.  Sliema  Alfred Bonello, age 45.  Zabbar  John Vella, age 41.  Zebbug  Alfred Zammit, age 24.  Zejtun  Rosaria Azzopardi, age 25; Lawrence Azzopardi, age 1; Grace Ciantar, age 40; Nazzareno Ciantar, age 40; Antonia Dimech.

Enemy casualties  Unteroffizier Heinrich Becker, pilot of  ME 109 fighter, shot down and taken prisoner; Feldwebel Walter Obermeilaender, pilot of JU 87 Stuka, died when the aircraft crashed into the sea;  Unteroffizier Albert Westphalen, Air Gunner of same.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 8 MAY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Hudsons, one Beaufort, one Cordelia, one Sunderland from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Blenheims to LG 39; one Lodestar to Heliopolis; one Sunderland to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Hurricane crash landed after combat; pilot uninjured.

LUQA  1050-1400 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Italian aerodromes.  1642-1828 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Catania, Gerbini strip, Pachino, Comiso, Gala and Messina Harbour.

TA QALI  Five Armourers are posted to this station ex UK.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 25; dealt with 22 (1 x 1000kg; 2 x 500kg, 9 x 250kg, 7 x 50kg, 3 Italian anti-personnel bomb containers).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Six trucks by day and six by night have been working on Hal Far aerodrome building pens since 3rd May.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working parties continue.  1300 hrs  Aircraft pen-building by 11th Bn Lancashire Regt at Luqa is suspended.  New type working parties at Luqa forthwith.  Task: to keep runways open, filling in craters.  Strength: six Officers and 200 Other Ranks.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Inspection of Lintorn Barracks and cook house at 19 Britannia Square.

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Posted by on May 8, 2017 in 1942, May 1942

 

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24 April 1942: Dogfights Over Grand Harbour

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  • 3 enemy aircraft destroyed, 8 damaged
  • 23 civilians killed in 13 localities
  • 40 unexploded bombs reported today
  • 24 tons of unexploded bombs disposed of in 6 days

    Wellington bombers

SECOND BOMBER MISSING AFTER SICILY RAID

Another Wellington bomber was reported missing this morning following the loss of one aircraft in yesterday’s raid on the Axis airfield at Comiso.  Flight Lieutenant Hayter and his five man crew took off from Luqa yesterday evening at 20:45 hours.  Theirs was one of the first wave of four Wellingtons attacked by anti-aircraft fire.  Two were hit, one was badly damaged; the other, piloted by F/Lt Harper, was reported missing.  F/Lt Hayter returned safely to Luqa at 2225 hrs.

Two hours later he took to the air again, as part of a second-wave attack on the same target.  During the early hours of the morning, his aircraft was shot down over the island above Acate. All of the crew except F/Lt Hayter were killed: he was taken prisoner.

The crew are named as Second Pilot Sergeant Douglas King, Observer Sergeant Maurice Buckley, Wireless Operators/Air Gunners Sergeant Edward March, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner and Sergeant George Tull, and Air Gunner Sergeant James Kehoe; all Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 APRIL TO DAWN 25 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind south easterly; no cloud – visibility approximately 70 miles.  Warm.

0530-0620 hrs  Air raid warning.  One JU 88 bomber approaches from the west and drops bombs on Floriana.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0640-0658 hrs  Three ME 109s machine gun Ta Qali aerodrome.

0709 hrs  Formations of enemy bombers with fighter escort are observed approaching the Island.  Four Hurricanes 185 Squadron and two Hurricanes 229 Squadron from Hal Far are scrambled and intercept a formation of JU 88s and ME 109 fighters.  Sgt Boyd damages two ME 109s and F/Lt Lawrence one.  P/O Fletcher damages one JU 88.

Four Spitfires 126 Squadron (Ta Qali) are also airborne and engage enemy aircraft.  F/Lt Johnstone probably destroys one JU 88; Sgt Miller and Sgt Christ damage one JU 88; Sgt Milner damages two.

0725 hrs  Seven JU 88s carry out a dive-bombing attack on Luqa.  Bombs land on the perimeter of the aerodrome.  One serviceable and one unserviceable Hurricane are burned out.  A photo-reconnaissance Spitfire is damaged.

0730 hrs  22 JU 88 bombers attack the Dockyard, targeting French Creek and Marsa.

0810 hrs  Bombs land on the north east outskirts of Zejtun and near Tal Handaq.

0820 hrs  One JU 88 is engaged by light machine gun fire from HQ 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt: no hits claimed.

0839 hrs  Raiders passed.

1005 hrs  A large plot of enemy bombers and fighters is observed heading towards the Island.

1010 hrs   Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept.  They attack JU 88s while they are engaged in bombing raids over Grand Harbour: Sgt Christ destroys one JU 87.

South Street, Valletta (NWMA Malta)

1015 hrs  45 enemy bombers and fighters attack the Grand Harbour area and drop a considerable number of bombs on houses and buildings in Valletta and Floriana.

In Valletta, heavy bombs explode in St Johns Ditch, Hastings Gardens and South Street, killing one and injuring ten.  ARP officers are reported to have collected six bags of human flesh from the ruins. 

Several members of 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment are in an air raid shelter in Old Bakery Street when it is hit by a high explosive bomb.  Privates E Jones and F Jepson are reported missing, believed killed.  Witnesses suggest that the bomb landed at their feet, killing both instantly.  Corporal A Johnson is badly injured [he later died of his wounds].  Sergeant Myers and Private Doyle are injured and taken to hospital; Sgt Bollard, L/Cpl Clarke and Pte Leak are slightly injured.

In Floriana bombs explode in St Anne’s Street, St Thomas Street, Sarria Street, Gunlayer Square and Magazine Street, killing two people and injuring thirty, eight seriously.

1030 hrs  Ta Qali is attacked by enemy bombers using heavy calibre bombs – believed to be captured British bombs.

1110 hrs  Raiders passed.

1230 hrs  Three waves of JU 88 bombers with fighter escort (approximately 15 aircraft in each wave) approach the Island.  Two Hurricanes 229 Squadron and one from 185 Squadron from Hal Far intercept the incoming formation.  P/O Nixon, 229 Squadron, damages one ME 109.

1235 hrs  The enemy plots separate:  22 JU 88s head for Grand Harbour, bombing Valletta, Corradino, Marsa Creek and Pieta, causing further damage to buildings and Dockyard facilities.

1236 hrs  Six JU 88s raid Luqa, causing craters on the aerodrome and dispersal areas.  Bombs fall on already uninhabitable billets.

1240 hrs  One Spitfire is airborne from Luqa to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

1250 hrs  JU 88s are engaged by light machine gun fire from HQ 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt: hits claimed.

1355 hrs  The lone Spitfire is returning to Luqa when he is shot at by four ME 109s during landing.

1400 hrs  Raiders passed.

1800 hrs  A large number of enemy aircraft is plotted to the north on course for the Island.  They turn towards Grand Harbour: the first formation flying on towards Ta Qali, the second attacking Grand Harbour and Valletta, and the third targeting Msida.  Three Spitfires 601 Squadron are airborne from Luqa to intercept.  They engage several JU 87s and ME 109s over Grand Harbour.  One JU 87 is claimed as damaged.

1807 hrs 15 JU 88s and 19 JU 87 Stukas with a large escort of fighters attack Grand Harbour.  Considerable damage is caused to buildings in Floriana and Valletta, including Casemate Barracks, the Torpedo Depot, the General Post Office and GOR Officers’ Mess.

Floriana is a main target: bombs hit the ARP centre, destroying medical equipment one ambulance and a reconnaissance motor cycle.  Bombs also hit houses in Filippo Sceberras Square, St Anne’s Street and Sarria Street, causing 23 casualties (some later died in hospital).  Pte Urquhart, 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment, is killed while on leave in Valletta.

Four Hurricanes 185 Squadron from Hal Far intercept 15 of the JU 87s involved in the raid on Msida.  P/O Wigley and Sgt Finlay each damage a JU 87.  Sgt Dodd attacks four JU 87s: no results observed.

Three Spitfires are airborne from Ta Qali to defend the aerodrome from the incoming raiders.  F/Lt Lucas has to crash land near Siggiewi due to Glycol trouble.  The other two Spitfires return with R/T trouble.

1820 hrs  Nine JU 88s with fighters in support attack Ta Qali.  Bombs are also dropped near Targa Heavy Ack Ack position.

1840 hrs  An enemy reconnaissance flight is observed over the north of the Island.

1845 hrs  One ME 109 is engaged by 225 Light Ack Ack Regiment.

1905 hrs  Raiders passed.

Dusk  Three ME 109 fighter-bombers attack Ta Qali.

2042-2340 hrs; 0155-0210 hrs; 0345-0435 hrs Three air raid alerts are sounded for individual approaching aircraft.  German and Italian bombs, including incendiaries are dropped in the Luqa area, Tal Virtu, Gudjia and Safi.  A few houses are destroyed but there are no casualties.  One Beaufighter is airborne in response to each alert to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Alexander Balinson, Royal Canadian Air Force, 148 Squadron; Flight Sergeant Arthur Charron, Royal Canadian Air Force; Corporal William Rogerson, 1st Battalion, Durham Light Infantry; Gunner Carmel Dingli, 1 Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Lance-Sergeant Joseph Sammut, 1 Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Joseph Delia, age 20.  Floriana  Dolores Abela, age 60. Ghaxaq  John Mary Camilleri, age 67; Anthony Galea, age 51. Gzira  Joseph Borg, age 15.   Hamrun  Charles Demajo, age 13; Aida Kelly, age 26; Michael Pace, age 15; Joseph Spiteri, age 12.  Marsa  Michael Cilia, age 18.  Mosta  Luigi Calleja, age 75. Paola  Leone Bartolo, age 20; Teresa Bondin, age 2; Josephine Bondin, age 6 mths; Gaetan Pisani, age 31.  Pieta  Saviour Caruana, age 21; Petra Christine Dungstaad, age 30. Siggiewi  Carmel Cachia, age 53.  Sliema  James Naudi, age 45.  Tarxien  Michael d’Alfonso, age 18.  Valletta  Jane Muliett, age 3; Caroline Salnitro, age 14.  Comino  Rose Zammit, age 15.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 24 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Torpedo Depot further damaged in air raid.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Bombay from Gibraltar, one Hudson from Gambut.  Departures  One Catalina, one Hudson to Gibraltar; one Bombay to 108 MU.

LUQA  1150-1343 hrs  One Spitfire on photo-reconnaissance of East Sicilian aerodromes.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Battalion ceased working on aerodromes at Ta Qali and Luqa during the day and began working from 1930 hrs until 0300 hrs daily for seven days a week.  One Other Rank is wounded by a delayed-action bomb and dies of his wounds shortly afterwards.  A detachment from the Battalion took over observation post duties at Tal Minsia for one week.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb in Casemate Bks destroyed FRE Oil Store. Weight of bombs disposed of still rising: 24 tons in 6 days.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 43; dealt with 10 (3 x 500kg, 4 x 250kg, 3 x 50kg).

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1800 hrs  This unit hands over observation post at Tal Virtu at 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt.  2100 hrs  Luqa and Hal Far working parties continued.  Work progressing much quicker than by daylight.  No dispersal of troops on air alert at night.  Luftwaffe using firework-incendiary bombs at night, not successfully, against grounded aircraft.

(1) Compiled with reference to Dover War Memorial Project.  Flight Lieutenant Hayter, Mentioned in Dispatches, was one of the escapees from Stalag Luft III, as recalled in the film ‘The Great Escape’. Hayter one of the fifty recaptured and shot on the direct orders of Hitler.

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Posted by on April 24, 2017 in 1942, April 1942

 

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19 April 1942: No Fighter Planes to Defend Malta – 15 Ack Ack Guns Hit – 71 Killed

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Clear-up in Floriana (NWMA Malta)

NO FIGHTERS UP AGAINST 276 BOMBERS  – BOMB HITS CARE HOME

For the second day in a row no RAF fighters took to the air today to intercept incoming enemy formations.  The Luftwaffe were able to arrive in Malta’s air space unhindered and carried out heavy raids on Grand Harbour and all the airfields, dropping a total of 436 tons of bombs (442,376 kg).  Anti-aircraft positions were a main target: fifteen were hit, killing thirteen Gunners and injuring many more.

TRAGEDY IN HAMRUN

The community of Hamrun is in mourning today after a heavy high explosive bomb struck a care home, killing many of the patients and their carers.  St Paul’s Home for the Elderly was run by the Little Sisters of the Poor, many of whom were among the 34 killed in the explosion.

GEORGE CROSS JOINS VICTORY V

“Great exhilaration is being shown by the people of Malta since the award of the George Cross by His Majesty the King.  Replicas of the cross are being chalked on all the buildings alongside the ‘Victory V’ sign.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 APRIL TO DAWN 20 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly.  30% high cloud – fine.

0710 hrs  Air alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

0806 hrs  60 JU 88 bombers and 24 JU 87 Stuka dive-bombers escorted by fighters are reported approaching the Island.  They divide into several formations to attack Grand Harbour, Hal Far, Safi and Luqa, dropping four bombs from each plane.

0845 hrs  Massive formations of JU 88s and JU 87s attack the Grand Harbour area, including Marsa Creek and Valletta. The San Lorenzo Tunnel is hit, causing a partial collapse.  SS Pampas is set on fire and part of the Tram Depot is destroyed.

Royal Artillery HQ reports bombs on San Pietru gun position – one gun slightly damaged; Benghaisa gun position – gun out of action slightly damaged and three Other Ranks wounded; and on Tal Qroqq, Hompesch and Marsa gun positions.

Msida Bastion (NWMA Malta)

A large formation of JU 88s attacks Valletta.  A stick of bombs falls on Old Mills Street: no casualties.  Eight JU 88s peel off to target Msida Creek: the Ospizio Barracks are hit.

0900 hrs  Two formations – five JU 88s and four ME 109 fighter bombers – carry out high level bombing and dive bombing on Luqa airfield, cratering the runway.  One unexploded bomb is reported in the Beaufort dispersal area.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 88s: hits claimed.

0915 hrs  Bombs explode north of Zabbar and between close to three defence posts of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt.  Light Machine Guns of their Battalion HQ and D Company engage one JU 88: no hits claimed.

0954 hrs  Thirteen JU88 bombers raid Kalafrana and another eight attack Hal Far causing ten craters on the runway and dispersal areas.  Barrack blocks are hit, one Hurricane is burned out, one Albacore and one Swordfish slightly damaged.

1003 hrs  Raiders passed.

1015 hrs  1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report an unexploded bomb UXB 150 yards from Post RA3 and another at map reference 489224.

1121-1143 hrs  Four enemy aircraft (suspected to be ME 109s) approach the Island but do not cross the coast.

1325 hrs  Several large plots of enemy bombers with fighter escort are reported approaching the Island.  They divide into several formations to attack Grand Harbour Hal Far, Luqa and the Safi strip.

1330 hrs  A massive wave of JU 87s and JU 88s attacks the Grand Harbour area.  The Police Office at Dockyard Main Gate is wrecked, and a surgery damaged.  Several bombs land on Valletta, including one on a shelter in Merchant Street.  In Floriana, Argotti Gardens, the Police Station and the Government Dispensary are hit.  Bombs destroy several houses in St Francis Street: 13 casualties are later recovered from the rubble.  Royal Artillery HQ reports direct hits on the Santa Maria gun position with 14 casualties.

1340 hrs  A large formation of aircraft bomb Marsa crossroads, blocking the road, Marsa Creek and Marsa Ack Ack Battery, where there are six casualties.

1400 hrs  One JU 88 attacks Hompesch: one stick of bombs lands close to a 3″ Ack Ack Battery and other positions of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt.  Their D Company gunners engage one JU 88 turning away from the attack: no hits claimed.

1445 hrs  L/Cpl James and Pte D Macpherson, 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt are killed by an enemy bomb.

1400 hrs  Twenty JU 87s and JU 88s attack Hal Far, badly damaging the Officers’ Mess and other quarters, including barrack blocks, cookhouse and the NAAFI.  Two Hurricanes are slightly damaged.  One stick of bombs falls across Hagiar Qim Battery causing some damage to equipment.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 88s and ME 109s: hits claimed.

1325 hrs  JU 87s, 88s and ME 109s carry out high level and dive-bombing raids on Luqa aerodrome, cratering the main runway, and on Safi strip.  Transit Flight offices and Works and Buildings offices are damaged beyond use; four previously damaged billets are written off.

1446 hrs  Raiders passed.

1530 hrs  1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt reports an unexploded bomb at map position 518219.

1557 hrs  Four aircraft (suspected to be ME 109 fighter bombers) approach from the north and drop bombs in the north of the Island.

1600 hrs  A delivery flight of seven Hurricane lands successfully.

1626 hrs  Raiders passed.

1630 hrs  1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt reports two unexploded bombs at map position 512227.

1800 hrs  Several large plots of enemy bombers with fighter escort are identified approaching the Island.

1812 hrs  A large formation of bombers attacks the Grand Harbour area, including Corradino, French Creek and Marsa Creek.  Bombs on Floriana cause considerable damage to the NAAFI Club in Parade Ground, Portes des Bombes area and Valletta Wharf.

Ack Ack gunners score a direct hit on one JU 88 and the aircraft disintegrates in mid-air.  Manoel gun position is hit, killing nine Other Ranks and wounding one officer and 5 Other Ranks.  Naxxar, Tal Qroqq, Benghaisa and Hompesch Heavy Ack Ack positions report near misses; the HQ of 32 Light Ack Ack is demolished.

1830 hrs  JU 87 and 88 bombers attack Hal Far.  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery engage numerous JU 87s: hits claimed.

1840 hrs  One lone JU 88 carries out a high level bombing attack against Hompesch.  One bomb lands on the camp of Battalion HQ 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt but there are no casualties.

1940 hrs  All clear.

Night  Four air raid alerts sound for six enemy raiders.  Bombs are dropped on Gudja, Safi, Hal Far and Kalafrana.  No fighters are airborne.

2245-2340 hrs  One Italian BR 20 aircraft approaches from the north and drops a number of 12kg bombs round Bir-id-Deheb, and from Ghaxaq to the Safi strip.

0130 hrs; 0238-0251 hrs  Air raid alerts sounds for single aircraft: nothing transpires.

0330-0600 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on patrol to intercept incoming enemy aircraft: no engagement.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Joseph Galea, HMS St.Angelo;  Gunner Anthony Cunningham, 7 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Lance Corporal Alfred James, 1st Battalion, The Dorsetshire Regiment; Private Henry Livingstone, 1st Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment; Gunner Saviour Mifsud, 3 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Private Anthony Saliba, King’s Own Malta Regiment.

Gunner Cyril Bunn; Gunner Sydney Carter; Lance Bombardier Charles Castle; Bombardier Andrew Cullen; Gunner James Ditheridge; Gunner John Mansell; Gunner Thomas Smith; Gunner James Stewart; Gunner Samuel Vickers, all of 222 Bty, 10 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.  Lance Bombardier Albert Johnson and Bombardier Cyril Pughe, both 190 Bty (6th Battalion The Royal Warwickshire Regiment), 10 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties Gudja   Anthony Borg, age 46.  Gzira  Joseph Borg, age 15; Josephine Gingell, age 40.

Hamrun  Marianna Attard, age 70; Filomena Azzopardi, age 70; Rosaria Azzopardi, age 70; Francesca Bonello, age 75; Silvia Bono, age 71; Carmela Borg, age 91; Giovanna Borg, age 72; Lucrezia Borg, age 55; Rosa Calascione, age 70; Mary Calascione, age 40; Maria Camilleri, age 70; Mary Camilleri, age 70; Joseph Caruana, age 77; Teresa Casabene, age 58; Marianna Cassar, age 65; Joseph Cuschieri, age 75; Catherine Cauchi, age 66; Concetta Darmanin, age 70; Carmela Debono, age 80; Pauline Ferro, age 80; Josephine Galea, age 70; Sister Teresa Garabaldi, age 53; Antonia Hyzler, age 75; Mary Kelly, age 90; Emanuela Laferla, age 70; Teresa Meilak, age 90; Teresa Micallef, age 60; Virginia Micallef, age 60; Grace Pace, age 80; Clara Pace, age 70; Giovanna Potenza, age 70; Sister Therese Sciberras, age 85; Mary Vella, age 69; Rosa Zahra, age 70.

Msida  Francesca Bianco, age 70; Vincenza Caruana Mamo, age 74; Joseph Grech, age 76; John Zammit, age 78.  Sliema  Emanuel Borg, age 16.  Valletta  Violetta Bone, age 16; Joseph Borg, age 14; Herman Scerri, age 14.  Zabbar  Angela Degabriele, age 75; Josephine Gatt, age 34; Mary Lia, age 38; Saviour Mallia, age 33; Joseph Mallia, age 30; Grace Tedesco, age 23.    Zejtun  Paul Despott, age 16.  Zurrieq  Carmel Callus, age 43; Anthony Inguanez, age 13.

Enemy casualty  Josef Bauer.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 19 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde sailed for Gibraltar with passengers.   Attacked by ME 109 off Grand Harbour and returned at 2200 hrs.  Una proceeded on patrol west of Tripoli.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Seven Hurricanes, two Blenheims from Gambut; one Beaufighter from Gibraltar.  Departures  Five Wellingtons to 108 MU; one Hudson to Gibraltar.

LUQA  2152-0920 hrs  Six Wellingtons S/D Flight search for and attack enemy shipping.  Sight one merchant ship and two motor torpedo boats: no attacks made.

TA QALI  20 airmen attached to this station from Luqa for one day.  One Chief Petty Officer and twelve seamen ex Breconshire attached to this station for armament duties.  Aerodrome runway serviceable and extensive repairs proceeding.

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  1 Dorset L/Cpl James and Pte Macpherson killed by a bomb at Gzira.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT 50 men working on electric light mains in Valletta continued working today; other parties stood down.  Several incendiaries in and around Horn Works.  Pte Livingstone, B Company, killed by shrapnel.  Pte Holmes injured and admitted No 90 General Hospital.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  0215 hrs  Lt Treadwell dies in No 90 General Hospital.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work continued on aerodromes.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  NAAFI in Lintorn Bks demolished by bomb.  Further bombs on Floriana Parade Ground – no casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 27; dealt with 13 (1 x 1000kg; 3 x 500kg, 2 x 250kg, 7 x 50kg).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  1700 hrs  No 4 Platoon now located at Ta Salib cross tracks.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  One bomb lands close to B Company cook house of 3rd Battalion.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Final day for Hal Far working party.  2100-0630 hrs  Both working parties numbering all available Officers and men at Luqa and Hal Far to complete first set of pens for new aircraft.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT Working parties continue building Spitfire pens on Ta Qali aerodrome.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  A working party of 130 Other Ranks is employed at Luqa during the hours of darkness.

(1) Army News, Darwin, Australia, 19 April 1942

 

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11 April 1942: Bombing Cuts Power, Water and Bread Supplies

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POWER CABLES DOWN, WATER AND GAS MAINS DAMAGED, BAKERIES AND MILLS AFFECTED

From:  Governor (Lt Gen Sir W Dobbie)  To:  Secretary of State for the Colonies 

Most Secret

  1. Valletta: clearing debris (NWMA Malta)

    On the evening of 7th April Valletta was heavily and apparently deliberately bombed.  Many buildings either destroyed or extensively damaged.  Among these were the Palce, near miss, Auberge de Castille (RA Headquarters), [Auberge] de France (Education Department) and Opera House, all direct hits.  Market mostly destroyed.  Other buildings housing Government Departments also destroyed or badly damaged…Much damage also to private property with interruption of water and electricity supply, telephones and blockage of roads.  Gas service previously put out of action and not repairable in present conditions.  Casualties fortunately few.  There had also been serious damage in Valletta in previous days resulting from attacks on the harbour area.

  2. Cumulative effects of the above have made it impossible for Government offices in the Palace and other seriously damaged buildings to continue to function in Valletta.  These including my own office and the Lieutenant Governor’s are now being moved to Hamrun and environs.
  3. There has also been much damage in the Three Cities, Marsa, Floriana and stores on Valletta side of Grand Harbour.  Power Station and Flour Mills have so far escaped serious damage but baking and the distribution of bread has been most difficult owing to the destruction of several bakeries and the interruption of electric power and breakdowns in communications.  Situation now in hand.
  4. The people are showing great fortitude in face of acute hardship to very many.

LACK OF MINESWEEPERS LEAVES MALTA’S SHIPS AT RISK

Vice Admiral Malta notifies Commander in Chief Mediterranean that due to recent heavy bomb damage the Island is severely short of minesweepers.  The approach channels cannot be fully swept, presenting a serious risk to vessels operating from Grand Harbour.  It is hoped that one or two minesweepers can be sent to Malta with the next convoy.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 APRIL TO DAWN 12 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind south-east; clear, with haze at 20000 feet.

0543 hrs  Two ME 109s patrol south of the Island.

0625 hrs  Two ME 109s patrol south east of the Island.

0848-0858 hrs  One JU 88 and two ME 109s cross the coast on reconnaissance.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1020 hrs 12 ME 109 fighters and fighter bombers – attack Hal Far.  One Hurricane is burned out and two slightly damaged.  One petrol bowser is damaged.

1215 hrs  Formations of 37 ME 109s, 44 JU 88s and 16 JU 87s approach the Island from different directions, attacking Grand Harbour, Luqa, Ta Qali and Hal Far.

1216 hrs  10 JU 88s attack gun positions round Grand Harbour; several bombs land near radio communications positions at Rinella: roads are blocked.

1225 hrs 15 JU 88 bombers drop dozens of high explosive bombs on Ta Qali: three land near the caves.

1230 hrs  A formation of 14 JU 88s attacks Luqa aerodrome, destroying two Wellingtons, two Beauforts and one Hurricane.  One Wellington under repair is further damaged and a truck is burned out.

1237 hrs  Twelve JU 88s bomb Safi strip. 

1240 hrs  Two Messerschmitts machine-gun the Safi strip.

1245-1257 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) engage numerous JU 88s and ME 109s: no claims.

1331 hrs  All clear.

1714  hrs  100 enemy aircraft including JU 88s, JU 87s and ME 109s in several formations approach the Island and divide to attack the Dockyard, Luqa, Safi and Hal Far.

1725-1735 hrs  Guns of 225 LAA engage numerous JU 88s and ME 109s.  One gun claims two hits on each of two JU 88s, another claims one hit on each of two JU 88s.  One generator is damaged by bomb splinters.

1727 hrs  Three ME 109s and ten JU 88s bomb Hal Far.  One Hurricane is badly damaged and two slightly damaged.  One soldier is injured and a petrol bowser is destroyed.

HMS Kingston

1730 hrs  HMS Kingston in No 4 Dock is hit on the port side amidships.  The bomb penetrates the bulkhead between the engine-room and gearing room.  The ship turns over to port and is believed to be a write-off.

JU 88s and ME 109s carry out dive-bombing and ground-strafing on Luqa aerodrome, destroying four Wellingtons and damaging one Maryland, one Wellington and a photo-reconnaissance Spitfire.

1750 hrs  30 JU 88s drop bombs on Ta Qali: the runway is still serviceable.

1800-1810 hrs  Four ME 109s attack Mellieha Camp and Selmun Palace, causing slight damage to buildings.  Ack Ack guns engage.

1820 hrs  Bombs at Xaghra and San Pietru. One JU 88 is engaged by 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt: no hits claimed.

1921-0705 hrs  Continuous series of raids by individual aircraft.

2045-2200 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on patrol for enemy aircraft: no engagements.

0027 hrs  A single enemy aircraft comes in from the north.  A Beaufighter is airborne and shoots down the enemy bomber out to sea.

0305-0410 hrs  One Beaufighter on interceptions destroys one Italian BR 20.

0345 hrs The Beaufighter closes in on an Italian BR 20, attacks and destroys it over Gozo.

0430-0630 hrs  One Beaufighter on interceptions: no engagement.

Military casualties  Sergeant David Balmer, Royal Air Force Volunteer  Reserve; Gunner Theodore Dalli, 3rd Light Ack Ack (LAA) Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Joseph Faella, 3rd LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Lawrence Spiteri, 3rd LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Mgarr  Mary Vella, age 36.

Enemy casualties  Obergefreiter Peter Dressen, Observer;  Unteroffizier Karl Geilenkirchen, Air Gunner; Unteroffizier Friedrich Haas, Wireless Operator all crew of a JU 88 bomber, killed when the aircraft was shot down.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 11 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Kingston sank.  Rinella W/T Station damaged.  Urge proceeded for patrol between Lampion and Pantelleria.

AIR HQ  Hudson missing: no further news.  Hudson crash-landed: crew safe.  Arrivals  One Sunderland, two Wellingtons, four Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Sunderland to 108 MU.

LUQA 1120-1420 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissancfe Sicilian aerodromes and Pantelleria.

TA QALI  Aerodrome serviceable but large repairs still required.  Army parties still working.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1745 hrs  One JU 88 crosses Battalion HQ Camp at low altitude after coming through the harbour barrage.   The aircraft is engaged by light machine gunfre from Battalion HQ and D Company, and crashes at Tal Francis.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on aerodromes continued.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Hal Far working party continues: demolition and construction work progressing.  The working party is machine-gunned: no casualties.  Ack Ack light machine-guns claim strikes on one ME 109.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 10; dealt with 3 (1 x 30kg; 1 x 250kg; 1 x 1000kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

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9 April 1942: Villages Attacked – Churches Hit – Bombs on Mosta Rotunda

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Sant Andrija, Luqa

22 BOMBERS ORDERED ‘TARGET LUQA VILLAGE’

Two public shelters are damaged: 2 people are killed and one seriously injured in St Joseph Street, and 23 in Pope Innocent Street.  The parish church is extensively damaged and two bakeries demolished: the village is now almost completely destroyed.  The Governor, Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie, rushes to the scene.

Nine year old Agnes was about to have lunch with her family in Luqa when the siren announced that bombers were on their way: 

“My mother proceeded to share out the food and all of us then went down into the shelter clutching our plates.  We had barely tasted the food when explosion after explosion made the shelter shudder as if it would cave in.  There was no doubt that the bombs could not have landed more than a few metres away.  Silence returned abruptly and seconds later we heard a man’s voice screaming “everyone was dead”…

Two images come to mind when recalling that episode: one that of stretchers piled high with parts of human bodies recovered from the debris, the second that of the distraught father who had just lost eight of his nine children…” (1)

11 BOMBERS ORDERED ‘TARGET GUDJA AIRPORT’

Many houses are demolished, others and the Police Station damaged.  Eight civilians are killed, including five members of one family crushed in a private shelter in St Mary Street.

13 BOMBERS ORDERED ‘TARGET KIRKOP BARRACKS’

Bombs demolish 7 houses and damage 70 more, as well as the village church.

14 BOMBERS ORDERED ‘TARGET MQABBA AIRPORT’

The parish church in Mqabba is partly demolished, 50 houses are destroyed,  100 more damaged, killing three civilians and seriously injuring six.

Damage to Mosta dome (NWMA Malta)

10 BOMBERS ORDERED ‘TARGET MOSTA BARRACKS’

At 1600 hours Mosta’s parishioners were assembled beneath the beautiful Rotunda of St Marija Assunta for the daily hour of prayer.  At the sound of the air raid alarm, many headed for shelter; some preferring to remain in one of the side chapels to pray.

At approximately 1640 hours a 500kg Luftwaffe bomb pierced the dome, smashed into masonry and clattered to the stone floor.  It did not explode. The shocked parishioners were ushered out of the Church to safety and no-one was hurt.  The civil defence authorities were informed, and a call was put through to the Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal squad.

UXB report number 2175 was given the highest priority: it must be dealt with immediately, and personally by one of the two RE Bomb Disposal Officers, Lt T W T Blackwell or Lt G D Carroll.  Their weekly report confirms a 500kg bomb ‘defuzed and removed’ as well as a 50kg, similarly dealt with, outside the church. (2) For them, apart from the exceptional surroundings it was just one routine UXB among many.  Not so for the people of Mosta:

AN APPRECIATION. MOSTA. “May I through the medium of your paper voice a word of sincere and heartfelt thanks to the Bomb Disposal Squad who so promptly and so gallantly removed the unexploded bombs from the Mosta Church – a church so dear to the heart of the people of this Island.  In so doing, I am sure I am expressing the feelings of every Maltese and, more so, of the people of Mosta who are justly proud of their magnificent dome.” Joseph M Cassar Torreggiani (3)

MOSTA: MYTHS AND FACTS – to read more CLICK HERE

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 APRIL TO DAWN 10 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

0725 hrs; 0752 hrs  Air alerts.  Raids do not materialise.

0920-0950 hrs  One JU 88 and two Me 109s carry out reconnaissance over the Island.

1015 hrs  An unidentified submarine is sighted 2000 yards off Anchor Bay by 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.

1035 hrs  Four ME 109s drop bombs in the Hal Far-Luqa area while two ME 109s patrol to the east of the Island.  Two bombs causing craters on Hal Far aerodrome.

1100 hrs  Six Hurricanes 185 Squadron intercepted a formation of seven enemy bombers.  F/Sgt Fletcher, F/L Lawrence and Sgt Boyd each damaged one JU 88.

1245 hrs  Four ME 109 fighter-bombers attack Ta Qali.  20 ME 209s machine-gun Campbell Battery.  36 enemy aircraft approach the Island and split into two formations to attack Luqa village and Grand Harbour.

Two unexploded 1000kg bombs are reported at Marsa Heavy Ack Ack position.  One heavy bomb falls outside a shelter in Kalkara with 400 people inside, blocking three of its four entrances; no-one is hurt.  Corradino Hill Road and the road on the east side of No 4 Dock are blocked.  The Royal Navy Canteen is hit.  The Gunmounting shop, the MED Tool Room, and storehouses at NA Depot are wrecked.  Ack Ack engage and destroy one JU 88, one JU 87 and one ME 109, and damage one ME 109.

1300 hrs  20 JU 88s dive-bomb Luqa village and airfield.  Bombs destroy many houses and severely damaged the parish church. An air-raid shelter in Pope Innocent Street is hit, killing 25 of the 32 civilians sheltering inside.  On the aerodrome one Wellington is damaged and one unserviceable Wellington written off.

1303 hrs  14 JU 88 bombers attack Mqabba and Qrendi.  Several sticks of bombs fall on Mqabba village, Bubaqra, and between Qrendi and Zurrieq: one north east of Qrendi demolishes two houses, killing two civilians and injuring two.

1315 hrs  One JU 88 is engaged by one gun of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA): one hit claimed.

1320 hrs  11 JU 88s attack the Safi strip; several bombs also fall on Gudja village.  Battalion HQ 4th Bn Hampshire Regt is hit injuring three Other Ranks.

1630 hrs  Large numbers of enemy aircraft approach the Island in three waves.

1640 hrs  Ten JU 88s attack Mosta.  300 people attending a service in the Rotunda are shepherded into shelter.  Several bombs fall around the church; one 500kg bomb penetrates the dome and crashes to the floor, without exploding.

1655-1800 hrs  Two Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled and intercept a formation of JU 88s off Grand Harbour.  F/Lt Barton damages one.

1705 hrs  Eight JU 88s attack Ta Qali but most of the bombs fall in Mosta.  Messerschmitts machine-gun Ta Qali and Hal Far.  27 JU 88s attack Luqa, Valletta and ships in Grand Harbour.  The Governor’s Palace is further damaged; other bombs hit the bastion opposite the Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes in Floriana, causing considerable blast damage.

Malta’s fighters engage, destroying one JU 88 and damaging four.  Ack Ack also engage, destroying two JU 88s and one ME 109, and damaging one ME 109.  One Hurricane is shot down in the sea: the pilot escapes uninjured.  ME 109s molest fighters as they land.

1707 hrs  One ME 109 crashes in flames on the Safi strip.  One Hurricane crashes in the Ghar Lapsi area: two bale out, one lands at Lapsi.

1718 hrs  A Hurricane from Hal Far suffers engine failure and is forced to land on the Safi strip with its undercarriage down.  The aircraft hits a wall and is badly damaged.

1835 hrs  All clear.

1959-2204 hrs  Seven aircraft approach the Island but drop all bombs in the sea.

2007-2235 hrs  A Beaufighter operational to intercept enemy aircraft attacks a JU 88 over Safi strip.  The JU 88 lands and bursts into flames.

2238-2300 hrs  One aircraft drops incendiaries on the St Paul’s Bay area.

0115 hrs  A Hudson taking off from Luqa for transit to the Middle East crashes on take-off.  Sgt Hundy is killed; Sgts Saul, Vivien, Yates and Passmore, and Cpl Sadd are seriously injured.

0405 hrs  Five aircraft approach the Island; only one crosses the coast, dropping bombs in the Qrendi and Hamria areas.

0530 hrs  Two aircraft approach: one is identified as friendly, the other drops a mine in the sea.  Four ME 109s machine-gun Hal Far.  Light Ack Ack and Anti-Aircraft light machine-guns engage.

Military casualties  Sergeant Keith Hardy, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Canadian Air Force; Sergeant John Hannon, 1st Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment; Corporal George Nicklin, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers; Private John Rathbone, 8th Battalion, the Manchester Regiment; Gunner Joseph Attard*, Royal Malta Artillery (died in shelter in Luqa)*; Sergeant Charles Byers, Royal Naval Dockyard Police.

Civilian casualties  Cospicua  Charles Byers.  Ghaxaq  Josephine Bugeja, age 68; David Busuttil, age 7; Francis Enriquez, age 60; Mary Fenech, age 31; Nazzereno Fenech, age 8; Carmela Fenech, age 6; Esther Fenech, 10 mths; Joseph Schembri, age 13; Paul Zammit, age 7.  Gudja  Teresa Calleja, age 65; Carmelo Calleja, age 54; Grace Calleja, age 51; Joseph Calleja, age 51; Carmela Calleja, age 33; Peter Calleja, age 30; Peter Zammit, age 62; unidentified child.

Luqa  Joseph Abdilla, age 9; Innocenza Attard, age 42; Gunner Joseph Attard*, RMA, age 21; Salvina Attard, age 17; Andrew Attard, age 13; Michael Attard, age 11; Nicola Attard, age 6; Anthony Attard, age 8; Paskalina Attard, Age 3; Carmelo Azzopardi, age 52; Frances Barbara, age 31; John Barbara, age 10; Andrew Barbara, age 5; Carmela Barbara, 5 mths; John M Ellul, age 51; Felicissima Farrugia, age 38; Andrew Farrugia, age 11; Saviour Farrugia, age 8; Rosario Farrugia, age 6; Joseph Farrugia, age 5; Andrew Farrugia, age 16 mths; Carmel Farrugia, age 4 mths; Grezzju Schembri, age 53; Francis Schembri, age 11;  Censa Vella, age 70. 

Mosta  John M Cauchi, age 56; unidentified male.  Mqabba  Jane Busuttil, age 41; Mary Busuttil, age 15; Salvina Busuttil, age 15.  Qormi  Emmanuel Agius, age 16.  Qrendi  Rose Ellul, age 65; Jane Mifsud, age 60; Joseph Psaila, age 70; Caterina Sciberras, age 86.  Valletta  Anthony Farrugia, age 43.  Zabbar  Martha Cordina, age 45; Anthony Portelli, age 14.  Zejtun  Emmanuel Rizzo, age 4.  Zurrieq  Joseph Barbara, age 16.

Enemy casualties  Karl Heiser.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 9 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Umbra P35 returned from patrol off Lampion.  Two unsuccessful attacks.  Unbeaten proceeded for rendezvous with Upholder then to Gibraltar for repairs.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Five Wellingtons, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Wellingtons, three Beauforts, one Hudson to 108 MU; one Blenheim, one Beaufort, one Hudson to Bing El Arab.

LUQA  1000-1145 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance (PR) Sicilian aerodromes.  1020-1218 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron PR Sicilian aerodromes and Messina Harbour.

TA QALI  Aerodrome serviceable on  runway.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  During afternoon raid Sgt Hannon of B Company is killed when a bomb landed on a light Ack Ack position.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  0945 hrs  One UXB is reported 15 yards from Bn HQ Guard Room.  1750 hrs  Cpl E Evans is injured at Floriana by an enemy bomb. [He died at 0220 hrs.]

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on aerodromes continued.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 25; dealt with 11 (5  x 1000kg;  1 x 500kg, 5  x 50kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Battalion Tactical Exercise:  Object (1) to practice the move of a bicycle battalion to an assembly position; (2) to practice companies in the attack against parachutists who have fallen close to the Bn.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Hal Far working party of 280 men from all Companies continued.  1100 hrs Funeral of Fusiliers Crosland, Milne and Worster, killed by enemy action.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT 1730 hrs  E Company post TK 11 receives a direct hit, killing Pte J P Rathbone.  Venezia Bluff was also bombed.

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

(2) UXB Malta, S A M Hudson, History Press 2010/2012

(3) Times of Malta 16 April 1942

 

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

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2017 in 1942, April 1942

 

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8 April 1942: Fierce Battle to Save a Ship – Penelope’s Story

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1-8 APRIL 1942: enemy bombers 1427; bombs 1,759,186kg (1731 tons); casualties 234

  • Thousands of tons of bombs have ravaged Luqa, Ta Qali, Hal Far and Grand Harbour
  • Yesterday enemy bombers devastated Valletta – are civilians the target now?
  • Intelligence suggests a Luftwaffe plan to extend bombing across Malta’s villages and towns
  • With electricity, gas and water cut off and bread supplies under threat, how can the Island survive?
  • Visit maltagc70 for the latest news from Malta, 1942

PENELOPE’S LAST STAND

HMS Penelope holed and patched in Malta

Dockyard Foreman Len Austin remembers the final departure of HMS Penelope, thanks to the combined efforts of the Navy, Army and Dockyard workers, and his highly respected Manager, Mr Joughin.  One of the cruisers of Force K, the convoy so effective at sinking enemy merchant ships, Penelope has been in dry dock since 27March, for essential repairs:

“…she was now a sitting duck for the bombers. Bombs rained down but she was not hit, although the dock coping and the workshops adjacent were badly damaged…The two gangways from the dockside one forward and the other aft received direct hits and the ship’s sides in these areas were pierced by hundreds of holes, above and below the waterline. All that could be done was to weld patches over the holes and this proceeded.  There were not enough welders available so Mr Joughin asked whether any were available among the troops on the Island who could help and only one was found.”

By this afternoon almost the entire ship has been peppered with holes, all the aft cabins wrecked and the quarterdeck covered with debris from bomb damage to Dockyard structures.  It was decided that Penelope should sail as soon as possible.  As if aware of her departure, the Luftwaffe bombers returned for another heavy raid on the dockyard:

“arrangements were made for further supports under the ship so that she could help in the barrage. She fired until her gun barrels were virtually worn out. It was obvious that her luck could not last out indefinitely and undocking was scheduled for [this] afternoon. A long raid developed and we were in the Shelters for some hours…the afternoon raid had delayed the repair so the dock flooding time had to be put back…

With serious doubts whether Penelope could be lifted in time to leave port tonight the Vice Admiral Malta convened a conference and Mr Joughin was asked what could be done:

“’You must land every man who is not required for the working of the ship, all their equipment, all surplus easily removed fittings, all spare gear, as much fresh water as possible, in fact strip the ship of as much weight as could be done without impairing her steaming. We will take the ship to Canteen Jetty. You may embark 200 tons of oil fuel and a full outfit of ammunition and then sail with a good chance of reaching Gibraltar.’

…In minutes all was in hand and the dockside quickly became littered with off loaded weight. A halt was called whilst the ship was towed to the Jetty where the activity was resumed.  The “Kingston” a Destroyer which had sustained a near miss hit was then moved into the vacated dock. [Another] heavy raid developed and “Kingston” was hit amidships and sunk. This could have been “Penelope’s” fate.  She sailed at dusk, was attacked in the Narrows by Pantelleria, fired all her ammunition but reached Gibraltar safely” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 APRIL TO DAWN 9 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; 10% cloud at 18000 feet.

0825-0922 hrs  Four ME 109s attack Ta Qali, dropping four small bombs on the aerodrome.

Four Hurricanes 185 Squadron and four Hurricanes 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept ten JU 88s north west of Grand Harbour.  F/L Lloyd claims one JU 88 and one ME 109 damaged. P/O Wigley damages one JU 88 and Sgt Boyd claimed one JU 88 probably destroyed and one damaged.

1045-1145 hrs  Seven JU 88s, part of a larger formation of bombers, carry out a deliberate attack on aerodrome buildings at Luqa.  All bombs fall on the motor transport section.  Bombs are also dropped on Misrah Blandun area.

1120 hrs  Air raid by eight JU 88s with fighter escort of ME 109s attack Hal Far.  Ten craters on aerodrome and about 30 incendiaries dropped on aerodrome.

1125 hrs Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA)  engage numerous JU 88s, claiming seven hits on four aircraft.

1324 hrs  26 aircraft come in from the south east and drop bombs in the Dockyard and Paola areas.   Two bombs land on Hompesch 3.7″ Battery, near Battalion HQ Camp of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Reg.  Another bomb explodes between the Camp and Zabbar.

1335 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron sight six JU 88s with fighter escort.  Hurricanes attack, then Spitfires follow in.  F/L Heppell destroys one JU 88 and damages another.  P/O West G damages one JU 88 and destroys one ME 109; P/O Kelly damages one JU 88.

1345 hrs  Three ME 109s are engaged by 5 guns of 225 LAA; two hits claimed on one by two guns.

1400 hrs  Four ME 109s drop four bombs on Ta Qali, causing two small craters on the aerodrome.  One soldier is seriously wounded and one slightly. 

1505 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron attack eight JU 88s.  F/O West R probably destroys one; F/L Heppell damages one but is then blown out of his machine, probably by a Bofors shell.  He lands safely near Floriana.

1405 hrs  Four ME 109 fighters machine-gun Mellieha Camp.  1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment engage raiders: no claims.

1510 hrs  Enemy aircraft drop bombs in the Dockyard and Paola areas.  Bombs also land on the Mall Gardens in Floriana and an unexploded bomb is discovered in St James Ditch.  Lintorn Barracks and the Central Civil Hospital are also hit.

1525 hrs  ME 109 fighters machine-gun Luqa while four ME 109 fighter-bombers drop bombs on the airfield.  Six guns of 225 LAA engage three ME 109s: no claims.

1615 hrs  A stick of four 250kg bombs falls 500 yards south of Selmun Palace causing slight damage.

1721 hrs  22 ME 109, 32 JU 88 and 26 JU 87 attack ships in Grand Harbour.  Penelope’s gunners fire back until they exhaust their ammunition supplies.  The Gunnery Officer is killed and the Captain and several others wounded.  A bomb penetrates the forward decks of Kingston passing through and piercing her hull, but does not explode.

1744 hrs  1st Bn Cheshire Regiment receive a message to say work on Pampas ceases at 2000 hrs, with 12 hours’ notice to start again.  Men of B Company volunteer to load ammunition onto HMS Penelope prior to her departure from Malta.  An air raid is on at the time and the ship is a target.

1815 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled and see a Dornier 26 on the water, plus two JU 88s and ME 109s.

1910 hrs  P/O West 249 Squadron destroys the Dornier flying boat and one ME 109; P/O Kelly destroys one JU 88.

1938 hrs  All clear.

2007-2235 hrs  One Beaufighter on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft destroys a JU 88.

2026-2050 hrs  One enemy aircraft approaches from the east, crossing Zonkor Point.  It is engaged by a Beaufighter with a short burst and crashes in flames at the Safi end of Luqa aerodrome.

2140-2212 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north east but does not cross the coast.

2230-0050; 0135-0255; 0525-0635 hrs  Beaufighter on interceptions: no engagement.

2345-0645 hrs  A series of raids by single enemy aircraft.  Incendiaries are dropped on several locations including Ospizio, Latnia and Sliema sea front.

Military casualties  Lieutenant Jack Miller, HMS Penelope; Marine Daniel Soames, Royal Marines, HMS Penelope;  Able Seaman Sidney Tancock, Mentioned in Despatches, HMS Penelope.

Private Ivan Harrold, 1st Battalion, Durham Light Infantry; Private Cecil Peace, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment; Fusilier Charles Milne, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers; Fusilier Henry Worster, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers; Marjorie Smith, wife of Regimental Sergeant-Major Smith, 2nd Battalion, Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment.

Lance Bombardier John Hovell, 4th HAA Regiment, Royal Artilllery; Gunner Stanley Smith, 7th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Bombardier Geoffrey Worrall, 10th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery, (6th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment);Staff Sergeant Henry Staples, 11th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Joseph Mallia, 11th AA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Gunner George Falzon, 1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Lance Bombardier John Grech, 1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Emanuelle Mizzi, 1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Gudja  Fred Scicluna, age 45.  Marsa  Salvu Grima, age 57.  Qormi  Francis Barbara, age 56.  Tarxien  Joseph Bartolo, age 52.  Valletta  Joseph Cachia, age 49.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 8 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  During a dive-bombing attack on Grand Harbour Penelope ran out of ammunition and the Captain was wounded.  Kingston was damaged and in sinking condition.  Penelope sailed for Gibraltar at 2000 hrs.  Unsuccessful shipping search off Tunisian Coast by Swordfish.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Gambut; one Maryland from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Beaufort to 108 MU; one Lodestar to Gambut.

HAL FAR  Night 8-9th  Swordfish despatched to check up the position of the Kelibe light.

LUQA  1230-1325 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance western Sicilian aerodromes.  2340-0555 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on search for shipping and attack.  Sighted one merchant vessel with escorting destroyer and submarine.  Bombed merchant vessel but undershot.

TA QALI  Orderly Rooms, SWO , Guard Room move from St Edward’s College Mdina to Nos 3 & 11 caves.   Messina House taken over for billets.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT Working parties still on Pampas.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Cpl Worn is injured by machine-gun bullet from enemy aircraft.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  2345 hrs  Pte C Peace died in No 39 General Hospital as a result of wounds received from a bomb at Corradino on 7 April.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  A and B Companies working on Ta Qali aerodrome.  C, D and HQ Companies working on Luqa aerodrome.  One Other Rank wounded by enemy action on Ta Qali and died of wounds same day.  Three Naval Officers and 56 Naval Ratings attached to the Battalion for rations and accommodation, with a further 25 Naval Ratings with effect from 9th.  All from ships damaged in Grand Harbour by enemy air raids.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Incendiary bombs in the Barracks. Quickly extinguished – no damage or casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 14; dealt with 9 (4 x 50kg; 3 x 250kg; 1 x 500kg; 1 x 1000kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

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

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

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2017 in 1942, April 1942, Uncategorized

 

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