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5 April 1942: Rocket Bombs Hit Valletta

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Bombs on Floriana 5 April 1942 (NWMA Malta)

  • 176 bombers attack
  • 280 tons of bombs in four raids
  • Main targets: Dockyard, Valletta and Floriana
  • Five ships damaged


“St Clements Bastion, bomb unit of rocket bomb; fuze recovered”  RE Bomb Disposal 5th April 1942 (1)

The first ‘Rocket Bombs’ recorded in World War II were dropped on Malta in January 1942 when RE Bomb Disposal were called to deal with an unusual UXB in Floriana. Their report to the War Office in London detailed a new and deadly weapon: a heavily-armoured 500kg bomb, made even more powerful by the addition of rocket propulsion.  The extra thrust was designed to aid the bomb’s penetration of warships and fortifications.

In the air the bombs were a terrifying sight, trailing flames several yards long as they fell.  The reintroduction of these bombs against Malta shows the Luftwaffe’s increasing determination to maximise destruction of all targets.


Weather  Wind northerly: slight haze.

0750 hrs  23 JU 88s and JU 87s attack the Dockyard and Floriana, dropping heavy high explosive bombs, including Rocket bombs.  The Victualling Yard is further damaged, another explosion blocks the tunnel leading to No 11 Shelter.  The Cooperage store and houses collapse.  Pinto Wharf and Filippo Sciberras Square in Floriana are hit; the popular First and Last Bar disappears.

1122 hrs  53 enemy aircraft come in from the north and drop bombs on the Dockyard area.  A near miss at the north end of Bakery Wharf causes serious subsidence.  Police Quarters, 27 Store and GD Station are rendered unsafe.  Bombs explode on Store Wharf, the Yard Machinery Shop and another tunnel.  A large bomb hits the side of No 2 Dock puncturing the caisson and flooding the dock.  Two large bombs hit No 1 Boiler Shop and Gunmounting Wharf, which is left with a 20 foot crater.  A large number of bombs land on the Dockyard School area: Corrodino Gate is hit and almost every road is blocked.  A large unexploded bomb is reported near Zabbar Gate.

1145 hrs  Three aircraft drop bombs on Hal Far.  They are engaged by five guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA): no claims.

1215 hrs  All clear.

1410 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept large formations of JU 88s, JU 87s and ME 109s.  The Spitfires make individual attacks:  F/L Johnston probably destroys one ME 109; P/O Putman destroys one JU 88.  P/O Bisley destroys one JU 87 and damages one JU 88 before he is jumped by six ME 109s.  He is injured in the legs and hand, and lands at Ta Qali with his wheels up, from where he is taken to hospital.

1415 hrs  While 30 ME 109s patrol the Island, 40 JU 88s and 12 JU 87s attack the Grand Harbour area, dropping bombs on the Dockyard, Valletta and Floriana, where the Capuchins Friary is almost completely destroyed, killing two.  Bombs also hit St Francis Street, the Granaries (St Publius Square), The Seminary, Great Siege Road and Pinto Wharf.  Several civilians are injured.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: claim one JU 87 probably destroyed.

1426 hrs  Four ME 109 fighter bombers approach Hal Far from the south.  Two drop bombs causing craters on the aerodrome.  Two are engaged by four guns of 225 LAA Bty: no claims.

1705 hrs  28 JU 88s attack Grand Harbour.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.  Two JU 88s are destroyed and one ME 109 damaged by Light Ack Ack.

1745 hrs  Six ME 109 fighter bombers attack Ta Qali but miss the runway.  Two others are engaged by one gun of 225 LAA Bty: no claim.

2053; 2119 hrs  One enemy aircraft each time approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea.

2337-0010 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs in the sea south of the Island as well as other objects which drop more slowly.

0302-0418 hrs  Two aircraft approach from the north: one drops HE and incendiary bombs on Luqa and Gudja, the other drops bombs in the sea.

0513-0605 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops incendiaries on the Rabat and Ta Qali area.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Frederick Barr, HMS Kingston; Thomas Lee, Telegraphist, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman Reginald Prince, HMS Kingston; Ordinary Seaman Stanley Sellers, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman John Taylor, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman Stanley Wilson, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman Frederick Eager, HMS Penelope; Sergeant John Hawkins, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Pilot Officer Hugh McKee, Royal Canadian Air Force; Pilot Officer Edmund Smith, Royal New Zealand Air Force; Sergeant Kenneth Thomas, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Air Force (VR).

Civilian casualties  Cospicua  Carmela Montague, age 33; Daniel Montague, age 13; Joseph Montague, age 11; Mary Montague, age 8.  Floriana  Antonia Attard, age 50; Joseph Borg, age 70.  Hamrun  Augustine Balzan, age 16; Marianna Borda, age 77; Frances Borg, age 40; Fr Clement Cauchi, age 67; Joseph Farrugia, age 48; Emanuel Grima, age 15; Concetta Sultana, age 6.  Marsa  Paul D’Amato, age 77.  Msida  Joseph Abela.  Rabat  Anthony Camilleri, age 42.  Tarxien  Mary Bonnello, age 11; Amadeo Micallef, age 44.  Valletta  Philip Camilleri, age 64.  Zebbug  Alfred Barbara, age 27.  Zejtun  Angelo Agius, age 29; Dolores Busuttil, age 2.


ROYAL NAVY  Havock sailed at 2000 hrs and ran ashore off Kelibia, being subsequently destroyed by her own crew at 0400 hrs on 6th April.  During raids on Grand Harbour, Abingdon and Gallant were damaged and beached.  Lance received a direct hit while in dock and was blown off the chocks and partially submerged.  Kingston and Plumleaf were also hit and damaged.

AIR HQ  Wellington crashed taking off: crew and passengers unhurt.  Two Wellingtons crash-landed: crews unhurt.  One Beaufort crashed in flames at Luqa: no survivors.  One Beaufort missing: no further news.  

Arrivals  One Beaufighter, three Blenheims, three Wellingtons, two Hudsons, one Beaufort from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Wellingtons to 108 MU; two Beauforts to Sidi Barrani.

LUQA  1040-1357 hrs  One Spitfire 69 Squadron on photo-reconnaissance Tripoli railway-Gabes.

TA QALI  No night operations.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  1200 hrs  Work on Pampas cut down to one Officer, 30 OR, 1200-2000 hrs.  Private J Firman injured at RT shed: admitted to hospital.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  4 seater car, motor cycle and fitters shop demolished by bombs at Dockyard School.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  A and E and part of HQ Companies on Ta Qali aerodrome.  C & D Companies to commence training on 6th.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bombs on Casemate Bks causing damage to WOs & Sgts Mess.- no casualties.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 14; dealt with 4 (2 x 500kg; 2 x 250kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT Working party of 200 Other Ranks and 3 Officers building protective walls for aircraft at Hal Far.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT Sgt Ellis wounded by enemy action at St George’s Barracks: taken to 45 General Hospital.

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

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Posted by on April 5, 2022 in 1942, April 1942


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27 March 1942: Breconshire Sinks – Maltese Dockyard Worker Earns a Medal

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HMS Breconshire, hit and set on fire during yesterday’s heavy air raids, is now barely afloat with only six feet of her bilge above water.  Enemy bombing prevented all attemps at taking off her cargo of oil yesterday.  At daybreak this morning, fires broke out again and the ammunition supplies on board began to explode – creating a real risk of blowing the entire ship and the loss of all her cargo.  Moments after her Captain and officers had abandoned an attempt to scuttle her, Breconshire rolled onto her side and capsized.


Breconshire’s cargo was far too valuable to be abandoned to the ocean.  Len Austin, Foreman of the Dockyard, was given the dangerous task of recovering her desperately-needed cargo of oil.

“She looked like a huge whaleback sticking out of the water. This is how I first saw her, and heavy seas were breaking over her. We were desperately short of oil fuel and my job was to try to make it possible for the fuel on board to be pumped out from the two cargo tanks on the [starboard] side, and also if possible to break into the engine room and holds.

When the sea subsided it was possible to walk on the ship’s side and make a survey to devise a plan of action. A hole in the side looked to be the only way to obtain access to the air space surrounding the cargo tanks, and the physical removal of ship’s side plates for the engine room and hold.

All my men were ready volunteers and we got on with the job, which was interrupted by air-raids, bombs falling nearby. The work continued and in a day or so we were able to drill a small hole in one tank, through which the oil flowed out by water displacement, the water getting in via the tank air escapes beneath the surface. The oil filled the air space and a wooden plug was driven into the drilled hole in the tank.

The navy now took over and pumped the oil into drums using hand pumps. The system…worked and we recovered hundreds of tons of oil. The ship’s side plates 5 No. were removed and hauled clear. Diesel oil was now available from the Engine room and a host of items from the hold: milk, explosives, bombs, timber, medical supplies etc.”

Maltese Shipwright Supervisor Mr Zammit was also to earn himself the British Empire Medal:

“At the bottom of the air space was the tank margin of one of the ship’s own OFT’s, and this was full of fuel oil. Our manner of winning the oil from the cargo tanks had resulted in the air space getting smothered in thick fuel oil. To get down to the margin tank was very hazardous and to drill the necessary hole almost suicidal. This would have to be carried out in complete darkness and there was the danger of oil fuel vapour exploding. I told Mr. Zammit that under no circumstances was he to send a man to this job, and he obeyed the order.

One day when I visited the ship I was told that he was doing the job himself, and then he appeared through the access hole we had made. He was naked, smothered all over in oil and looked like a negro. He climbed out and jumped overboard to swim round for a while. When he climbed on board, I could see that much of the oil had emulsified which made him look even worse. He was rubbed down and then dressed. He told me, ‘You said I was not to send a man, so I went myself.’  He had succeeded in doing the near impossible and so more oil was recovered. It was a brave if foolhardy action.    Malta could carry on again for a while…” (1)


The Governor and Commander in Chief has announced that a complete register of civilian workers has been compiled for call-up to work as civilian units as required, for the Services or Government.  These groups are not under military discipline.  Gangs of civilians to work on aerodromes have been formed under special Defence Regulations, recruited from residents in nearby villages.

Frequent and heavy bombing – and the absence of slit trenches or any form of shelter for civilian labour – on the aerodromes has made it difficult to maintain sufficient manpower.  Numbers of volunteer workers have been encouraged with the offer of higher than normal pay, and have been working regularly on aerodromes for last twelve days.  As many police as can be spared are assisting.


Weather  Little wind; 50% high cloud.  Weather deteriorated: very little enemy action.

0804 hrs  One JU 88 with fighter escort carries out reconnaissance.  Heavy Ack Ack heavily engage the aircraft and the formation turns away.

0957 hrs  Five ME 109 fighter bombers approach the Island.

1025 hrs  Two ME 109s drop high explosive (HE) bombs on Luqa and three on Hal Far with several casualties.  One Hurricane is slightly damaged.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1112 hrs  HMS Breconshire turns over on her port side and sinks.

1201 hrs  Nine aircraft including three JU 88s drop six 500kg and six 250kg HE bombs on Grand Harbou.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1545 hrs  Five ME 109 fighter bombers approach the south of the Island and drop five 250kg and five 50kg HE bombs on Hal Far.  L/Cpl Walke, 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt is seriously injured and taken to No 90 General Hospital (He died 0015 hrs 28th March).  Cpl Brooking is injured in the left arm.

1640 hrs  One JU 88 with fighter escort carries out reconnaissance of Ta Qali and Grand Harbour at 23000 feet. Heavy Ack Ack engage.

3rd Bn KOMR discover a wheel washed ashore at Wied Zurrieq.

1747 hrs  Four aircraft patrol south east of the Island.

2232-0031 hrs  One aircraft patrols the Island, then drops bombs in the sea and incendiaries on land near Dingli.  Heavy Ack Ack fire a barrage.  Fighters are up: no engagement.

Military casualties  Leading Aircraftsman Adrian Styles, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Aircraftsman Leslie Tindall, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Private Thomas Ryan, 2nd Bn Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Zejtun  Carmel Zahra, age 15.


AIR HQ  Arrivals  Ten Hurricanes, one Hudson, one Blenheim, one Beaufort, one Lodestar from Gambut.  Departures  One Lodestar to Gambut.

LUQA  0925-1200 hrs  Photo Reconnaissance (PR) Spitfire 69 Squadron Pr of Sicilian aerodromes and Palermo Harbour.   2005-0345 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight special search to relocate vessel sighted by Spitfire AM.

TA QALI  Spitfires operating from Luqa.  No scrambles.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1800 hrs This unit hands over the Observation Post at Tal Virtu to 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Working party at Ta Qali aerodrome.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Private Ryan died in hospital from wounds.


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

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Posted by on March 27, 2022 in 1942, March 1942


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28 February 1942: Spitfires Not Coming to Malta

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  • 235 air raid alerts; 222 bombing raids
  • 118 civilians killed; 153 seriously wounded
  • 8 enemy aircraft destroyed by Ack Ack fire; 11 by RAF fighters
  • Rainfall double the average; airfields waterlogged
  • 29 air attacks by Malta forces on enemy bases; 15 on shipping
  • 100+ reconnaissance missions
  • Seven Hurricanes lost in action

“Throughout the month weather conditions were bad.  There was much rain and percentage of cloud which greatly assisted the enemy in his bombing objectives.  The main targets were the aerodromes and the submarine depot.  Particular attention was also paid to the Grand Harbour.  Of the three aerodromes, Ta Qali received more attention than hitherto.  There appeared to be an increase in the bombing of civilian dwellings, and Valletta, Sliema and Mosta suffered heavily.  There was a general increase in the number of casualties both service and civilian. 

Favourable weather conditions for the enemy combined with the effectiveness of the Heavy Ack Ack (HAA) barrage in many cases turned away the hostile bombers from their targets, but at the expense of the civilian thoroughfares – hence the damage and casualties in Sliema and Valletta.  The enemy scored a notable success in the bombing of the Grand Harbour by the sinking of HMS Maori on the night of 11/12th

Our bombers continued their offensive operations against the enemy bases in Sicily, and interception of enemy convoys to and from North Africa by our submarines was not prevented by the determined enemy attacks on Lazaretto and Manoel. 

Nothing new appeared in enemy tactics, although the re-appearance of the Stuka (JU 87) occurred during the afternoon of the 13th.  “G” Mines were also dropped on various occasions.  Despite adverse weather conditions our fighters and HAA continued to exact toll from the enemy, the AA shooting in particular being good.”


The convoy carrying a shipment of Spitfires which set out from Gibraltar on Thursday has turned back.  The decision to call off the mission is not due to enemy action: the aircraft carrier Eagle with Spitfires on board was well protected, with eleven Royal Navy ships of Force H as well as support aircraft on board the carrier Argus.  However, once launched from the carrier, pilots faced a 700 mile onward flight to Malta.  According to reports, adaptations to the Spitfires’ fuel supply system have malfunctioned.  Long-range flights cannot be attempted until the problems are rectified.  The dangers presented by delivery flights is emphasised by the loss of one of seven Wellingtons en route from Gibraltar today.


Weather  Bad: extremely heavy rain and low clouds; strong wind.

No raids during the day or night owing to bad weather.

1141-1159 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

1203-1220 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

Civilian casualties  Valletta  Captain William Parnis, MC, OBE, age 48.


AIR HQ  Arrivals  Seven Wellingtons from Gibraltar (one missing).  Departures  Five Wellingtons to LG 224; one Wellesley and four Beaufighters to 108 MU.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF2A patrol and photo-reconnaissance Lampedusa.  One Beaufighter Sicilian Task.

TA QALI  Aerodrome unserviceable during the day: no scrambles.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Strength:  32 Officers; 186 Other Ranks; MAS 4 Other Ranks; LAD 14 (attached).

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT Brigade ceremonial parade cancelled owing to rain.  GOC visited HQ Company: was quite pleased with what he saw.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT Strength:  34 Officers; 827 Other Ranks; 5 RAOC (attached).

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Observation Post at Tal Minsia handed over to 1/Cheshire Regt.  Intellingence Section returned to Bn HQ.  Strength:  25 Officers; 548 Other Ranks (Malta); 3 Officers; 96 Other Ranks (Middle East.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  B Company take over posts on Victoria Lines perviously held by A Company.

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT 1st Bn Observation Posts: HQ, Miziep, Torri l’Ahmar, Selmun.  Strength:   32 Officers plus 1 Chaplain, 1 Officer attached.  3rd Bn Strength:  27 Officers; 778 Other Ranks.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Disposition of Bn:  A Company Tal Karceppu; B Coy & HQ Ta Salvatur; C Coy Ta Hasluk; D Coy Tal Providence.  35 Officers; 779 Other Ranks.  Also Medical Officer and Chaplain attached.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  During the whole month, the Battalion has provided a daily working party, average strength 140 men, at RAF bomber aerodrome, Luqa, performing the following tasks:  (a) repairing bomb crater damage on main strip; (b) widening taxi strips; (c ) building dispersal areas for aircraft.

 8TH BN THE MANCHESTER  During the month the dispositions of the Battalion have altered; the Bn now has three completely mobile Companies which are primarily responsible for the Wardia Ridge but may be called on for a counter-attack role in any part of the Island.  All Officers and NCOs have carried out a reconnaissance of the other two Brigade areas. 

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


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Posted by on February 28, 2022 in 1942, February 1942


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24 February 1942: Bombs Target Cathedral – Civilians Buried Under Debris

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This afternoon enemy raiders drop bombs from a height of 5000 feet on the city of Valletta.  They land just yards from St John’s Cathedral, demolishing houses and shops in Zachary Street.  Civilians are reported buried under the debris.  The call goes out to Army units for rescue parties to help in the rescue operation.

S/Ldr Percival Stanley “Stan” Turner, DFC & Bar (courtesy Canadian Air Aces & Heroes)


Squadron Leader Percival Stanley (Stan) Turner DFC & Bar – recently posted to Malta to improve fighter operations – takes to the skies to demonstrate the tactics he believes are needed to win the air battle against the Luftwaffe:

One morning – it was 24 February – Turner took me by the arm in the Mess at Mdina and led me out onto the balcony overlooking the airfield… ‘Look here,’ he said, ‘you’ll be one of the flight commanders in the Squadron and I shall look to you to help me with changing the flying pattern here. We can’t have any more of this goddam VIC formations otherwise we’ll all get bumped, that’s for sure. I want you to learn this line-abreast stuff with me. And quickly.’ …’a couple of guys will never get bounced: attacked maybe, yes; but never surprised, no kidding.’

Reflective, yet impatient, he looked down at the airfield. ‘They’ve got several serviceable aeroplanes down there this morning. If Ops have got nothing on the table we’ll grab a couple of aircraft and run the sequences through. If a raid develops while we’re up, we’ll get stuck into it.’

My log book shows that we were airborne for thirty-five minutes in our clapped-out Hurricane IIs. My recollection is that during that time it seemed that Stan had the throttle of his aircraft permanently ‘through the gate’. It was all I could do to keep station. His taut nerves dictated his air speed. All the while, Woodhall, controlling from the ‘hole’ in Valletta, was in touch over the R/T, his deep, unhurried voice dispensing confidence.

‘Stan,’ he said, rejecting the Squadron’s ‘Tiger’ call sign, ‘there are some little jobs at angels 20 going south very fast. They may be working round up-sun behind you. Keep a good look out.’

‘OK, Woody,’ said Stan, ‘I can see them.’ With that, he seemed to find a bit of extra boost and headed up towards the sun. ‘We’ll just have a swing round,’ he said, over the R/T, ‘and see if we can get at the bastards.’ There wasn’t a chance of it.

Nothing doing, we went back to Takali and landed having done few of the manoeuvres Stan had been talking about. We walked back to what had once been 249’s dispersal hut from our aircraft in their sandbagged pens. The CO lit his pipe. ‘That’s it then,’ he said, ‘all there is to it. Just remember to keep the speed up. It’s no good floating about round here.’” (1)


Weather Improved: less wind; brighter periods; warmer.  Wind south.

0801-0813 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

0930-0943 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

1126 hrs  Eleven Hurricanes are scrambled from Ta Qali – four of 1435 Flight, the balance of 242 Squadron.  They attack two JU 88s: no claims.  A number of ME 109s patrol around the Island.

1145 hrs  One JU 88 comes in and drops bombs on Ta Qali aerodrome, damaging buildings, cratering the runways and cutting the RAF line to the dispersal area. P/O MacNamara is killed; F/O Lloyd and A/C Smith are injured and taken to hospital.  The aerodrome remains serviceable.

1210 hrs  The remaining two JU 88s follow and drop bombs between Safi and Hal Far, straddling Xleili Tower.

1227 hrs   All clear.

1510 hrs  Eight Hurricanes of 249 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali.

1530 hrs  Eight JU 88s escorted by ME 109s attack in waves of twos and threes.  Bombs are dropped on Valletta, Hal Far, Safi and Luqa.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.  Malta’s fighters engage ME 109s: no claims.  P/O Tedford is reported missing.  S/Ldr Turner crash lands at Luqa.

1700 hrs  Five Hurricanes scrambled to search for P/O Tedford: no results.

1727 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Zachary Street, near St John’s Cathedral, Valletta, demolishing houses and shops, and burying civilians under debris.

1800 hrs  1st Bn The Cheshire Regt and 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment are called in to help remove the debris.  They work in shifts through the night in an attempt to rescue survivors.

1817 hrs  Bombs are dropped on the Safi landing strip.

1842 hrs  All clear.

2022-2045 hrs  One JU 88 approaches from the north; Heavy Ack Ack engage and bombs are dropped in the sea.

2232-2310 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north and drops bombs on Qrendi strip.  One stick of 250kg bombs straddles D Company HQ, of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment: no serious damage or casualties.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0020-0043 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and bombs are dropped in the sea.

0342-0356 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the north, turns at 25 miles and recedes.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Thady Brian McNamara, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 242 Squadron; Pilot Officer Donald Tedford, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Civilian casualties  Cospicua  John Borg, age 51; Ghaxaq  Ubaldesca Vella, age 32; Sliema  John Brincat, age 32.


AIR HQ  Arrivals  Six Wellingtons from 231 Wing; three Beaufighters, one Beaufort, one Blenheim from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Wellington to LG 224.

HAL FAR  Night 24/25th  One Swordfish 830 Squadron on search for pilot of missing Hurricane off coast of Malta.  Nothing sighted.  Three Albacores 828 Squadron Fleet Air Arm despatched to attack two merchant vessels and one destroyer.  Owing to very bad weather nothing was sighted.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland SF2 patrol; one Maryland SF1 patrol; one Maryland photo-reconnaissance Tripoli.  S/D Flight  One Wellington special search.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT 1430 hrs All Companies did their cross country run.  1727 hrs  Bombs dropped on Valletta.  Working party of 1 Officer and 30 Other Ranks sent to clear debris.  Worked from 1800-2100 hrs and 0001-0300 hrs.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Working party at Luqa.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  L/Bdr H L Glover and Gunner N Burrows are interred at St Andrews Military Ceremony.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  4 ARWs during day – bombs on aerodromes and Valletta.  Bn provided working party to clear Zachary Street.

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

(1)  Memories of Flt Lt Laddie Lucas, 1942, courtesy of Canadian Air Aces and Heroes, WWI, WWII and Korea

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Posted by on February 24, 2022 in 1942, February 1942


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26 February 1941: 100 Strong Attack on Luqa Equals Illustrious Blitz

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Luqa airfield under attack (NWMA Malta)

Luqa airfield under attack (NWMA Malta)

Some 100 aircraft launched a massive bombing attack on Luqa airfield today, destroying or grounding the aircraft of Malta’s bomber squadron, damaging military buildings across the airfield and injuring six military personnel. Bombs also smashed into the nearby village of Luqa, destroying homes, injuring 14 civilians:

“The bombs just rained down all over and about the place. The village square hardly has a house standing… The Church of St Andrew escaped a direct hit, but bears the scars of battle all over.  Some people who remained in their homes had miraculous escapes…There were several soldiers in the square who just managed to reach the cover of an ordinary cellar shelter propped up with wood support. The house they were in a moment before crashed on the top of the cellar, but it did not give way to the weight of the masonry.” (1)

The third raid alert of the day sounded at 1245 pm, as over forty bombers and thirty fighters headed towards the Island’s north coast and on to Luqa. “Dive-bombers approach and attack in heavy waves. After what appears to be a preliminary skirmish with our fighters, the Malta barrage opens fire.  The first wave appears to dive the lowest.  They approach at a high altitude, then break up and dive singly.  The barrage concentrates over the enemy’s objective.  To reach it with any chance of getting close hits, the bombers, diving almost vertically, have to dash at high speed right into a veritable fire of bursting shells.  They seem to release four bombs at a time.  Clouds of smoke rise from the bursting bombs and from those enemy aircraft which dive straight to earth.  Just as one wave of attackers appears to have been dealt with, another follows in quick succession, mostly from the same direction as the first wave.” (2) 150 bombs were dropped on the airfield alone during the raid, eleven failed to explode – seven remain on the runway which is currently closed.  

Malta’s fighters launched a determined counter-attack, with eight Hurricanes of 261 Squadron led by Flying Officer F F ‘Eric’ Taylor DFC destroying three Junkers bombers and probably destroying seven. One JU 87 attacked by anti-aircraft fire drops its bombs on Gudja village before crashing nearby, killing a civilian.  However, in the fierce dogfight four Hurricanes were destroyed, including that of F/O Taylor who was one of the first Hurricane pilots to join the defence of Malta.  Two other pilots, P/O P Kearsey and P/O C E Langdon, were also killed.

Anti-aircraft guns launched a heavy barrage over Luqa, destroying five bombers confirmed and four probable, and damaging several more. “I saw one Junkers 87 still burning on Luqa hill. It was the first to dive and never got out of the dive.  The pilots were sitting in the burning plane, a mass of smouldering, charred bones.  A ghastly sight.”


Damage in LuqaThe village of Luqa has been all but destroyed in the air raid today – which is Ash Wednesday, one of the holiest days in the Malta calendar. A reporter from the Times of Malta who visited the village after the raid writes:

“There is hardly a street without a demolished house or one seriously damaged or shaken. The debris is still piled up on the streets…The villagers told me that tons of bombs have fallen in or about the village.  There were signs of destruction everywhere.  77 houses have been completely demolished, 25 others seriously damaged and uninhabitable, and it is reckoned that only about 25 per cent of the homes there have so far escaped completely unscathed.

So many bombs – some of them the biggest ever dropped – have fallen all around the village…that almost all houses and farms on the outskirts facing the fields bear marks of the shrapnel, which bit holes into the walls. But Luqa’s remarkable record is that although so many of its homes have been levelled, it has had only one casualty…” (1)

Despite the destruction, reports have praised the behaviour of Luqa’s villagers. “They would not hear of leaving the village, and accommodated themselves without fuss in their neighbours’ houses where they were given food and drink. By the evening, notwithstanding the battered state of the village, business went on as usual.” (1)


Weather  Fine.

0730-0755 hrs Air raid alert for one JU 88 bomber escorted by six ME 109 fighters which approach the Island. Four of them attack a Gladiator over Hal Far, causing no damage.  Anti aircraft guns engage and the raiders turn away without launching an attack.

1030-1055 hrs Air raid alert for a large formation of enemy fighters which approach the Island and split up as they cross the coast.   One Messerschmitt attacks a meteorological Gladiator without success.  Eight Hurricane fighters are scrambled and anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims

1245-1345 hrs  Air raid alert for 30 JU 87 and12 JU 88 bombers, escorted by 30 mixed ME 109 and BR 42 fighters which approach the Island and carry out a heavy raid on Luqa aerodrome, dropping some 150 bombs. Six Wellingtons are burned out on the ground and seven others badly damaged, of which four will be out of action for 2-3 months.  Seven others will be unserviceable for up to a month.  One Glenn Martin Maryland is a probable write-off, three others will be unserviceable for at least a week, another is slightly damaged.  One Miles Magister is slightly damaged.

Bombs also damage buildings, including two hangars, an officers’ mess, the airmen’s cookhouse, the NAAFI, three barrack blocks and a ration store room, and the HQ of 12 Field Regiment Luqa. One 200 gallon fuel tank is burned out, one lorry written off and several others damaged.  The aerodrome surface is badly cratered and likely to be unserviceable for 48 hours.  Four men of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment and two of the Royal Artillery are wounded.  Four unexploded bombs lie within the camp and seven others on the aerodrome, mostly on the runways.  Damage to civilian property in Luqa village is considerable.  One JU 87 attacked by anti-aircraft fire drops its bombs on Gudja village before crashing nearby.   

Towards the end of the attack 10 Dornier 215 and 10 Heinkel 111 bombers approach the Island but drop no bombs. Malta fighters are scrambled and engage the enemy, destroying three Junkers bombers and probably destroying seven.  Anti-aircraft guns engage, launching a heavy barrage over Luqa, destroying five Junkers confirmed and four probable, and damaging several more. They also damage one Dornier 215.  Three Malta fighters do not return after the raid.  One civilian is killed and 14 injured. 

1345-1409 hrs  Air raid alert for two JU 88 bombers which fly over the Island at high altitude but drop no bombs. Three Hurricanes are scrambled but the raiders evade engagement.

1558-1700 hrs  Air raid alert for one enemy Red Cross seaplane accompanied by an escort of twenty fighters on a mission to pick up casualties. They search the seas around the northern part of the Island for an hour.  Eight Malta fighters are scrambled and engage the escorting Messerschmitts from time to time, along with anti-aircraft guns.  One ME 109 is severely damaged.  

Two German prisoners whose JU 87 crashed in the sea during this morning’s raid are rescued by the High Speed Launch, brought ashore and interrogated at Kalafrana.

1742-50 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy formations approaching the Island. Five Hurricanes are scrambled and with enemy withdraw without crossing the coast.

0625-0730 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Philip James Kearsey; Pilot Officer Charles Edwaard Langdon; Flying Officer Frederic Frank Taylor, Royal Air Force, 261 Squadron.

Civilian casualties Gudja  Angelo Caruana, age 84.  

Enemy casualties Feldwebel Johannes Braun, 4/StG 1, pilot of Junkers JU 87 Stuka shot down; Unteroffizier Heinz Langreder, 4/StG 1, pilot of JU 87 Stuka shot down and died; Oberleutnant Kurt Reumann, commander of the 6/StG 1, pilot of a JU 87 Stuka, shot down; Gefreiter Erwin Suckow, crewman of JU 87 Stuka, shot down and died.


AIR HQ 0830-1136 hrs Maryland photoreconnaissance of Tripoli Harbour, Mellaha and the Gulf of Gabez.    

LUQA 69 Squadron  One Maryland photoreconnaissance Tripoli harbour and search for Sorman aerodrome; his aircraft was chased out by ME 109s.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  1245-1345 hrs  Air raid.  Luqa aerodrome is about two miles from Battalian HQ which, being high up, made an excellent grandstand.  Never has this unit seen such an exhibition.  The Ack Ack barrage was terrific but the Germans dived straight into it to loose their bombs.”  Posts SJ2, 3 and 4 handed over to the Regt by 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB reported 17; dealt with 6 (4 x 50kg, 2 x 500kg German).

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

(2) Malta Diary of A War, Michael Galea, Peg 1992


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


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9 August 1940: Ammunition Shortage Threatens Defence of Malta

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Stocks of ammunition cannot meet Malta’s needs, according to Army Chiefs. The original estimate of 13 ½ million rounds made in 1939 is proving inadequate and should be increased by 50%, they say. The higher demands are due to the addition of three battalions, Royal Artillery units, anti-parachutists and extra light machine guns to the Island’s garrison. With only 9 million rounds currently held in Malta, Army HQ has written to the War Office requesting urgent deliveries to bring stocks up to the required level.

'Elephant' type shelter

‘Elephant’ type shelter (1)


Weather  Fine.

No air raids.


2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Erecting elephant shelters at Ta Qali and Luqa for winter accommodation.

(1)  Quonset

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Posted by on August 9, 2020 in 1940, August 1940


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7 August 1940: Two New Infantry Brigades for Malta

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The Malta Infantry Brigade ceased operations today at Lascaris Barracks, to be replaced by two new Brigades. Infantry will now be operated in two zones: the Northern Infantry Brigade under Brigadier W H Oxley MC with its headquarters at the Melita Hotel and the Southern Infantry Brigade under Brigadier L H Cox MC, based at Luqa. Lt Col E D Corkery MC will be Brigadier i/c Administration, Malta.

Fort Lascaris

Fort Lascaris

The Northern Brigade will include units of 2nd Battalion (Bn) Royal Irish Fusiliers, 8th Bn Manchester Regiment and 1st and 2nd Bns Kings Own Malta Regiment. The Southern Brigade will include units of 2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment, 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment, 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment and 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.


Weather  Fine.

1628-1652 hrs  Air raid alert for six aircraft reported approaching over St Paul’s Bay. Malta fighters are up and the raiders turn back before any interception and before reaching the coast. No bombs are dropped.


ROYAL NAVY  Pandora sailed.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Major R F B Hill to be Acting Lieutenant Colonel and assumed command of the Battalion.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Operation Order issued today giving detailed instructions for the defence of Wardia sector.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  1800 hrs  Luqa  An order was received for the removal of wire and obstacles from the landing ground; carried out. Mail received from the UK.

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Posted by on August 7, 2020 in 1940, August 1940


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6 July 1940: Dockyard Bombed Without Warning Killing Workers

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Bombs struck the Dockyard this evening only seconds after the air raid alert sounded, causing casualties among men who were still making for shelter.  Two dockyard workers were killed and nine wounded, including three with life-threatening injuries.  The casualties have not been named.

fort St Angelo

fort St Angelo

Fort St Angelo evacuated

Four enemy bombers took part in the raid, which also targeted Fort St Angelo.  Three high explosive bombs smashed into gardens adjacent to the Officers’ quarters.  The impact and blast effect shattered all the doors and windows and considerably loosened the stone in the main structural walls of the buildings.  The quarters had to be evacuated and officers billeted temporarily in the former slave quarters, the residences of the Vice Admiral and the Captain of the Dockyard.

Another stick of bombs fell in a line from Vittoriosa to French Creek.  High explosives landed on Dockyard Creek: one on Store Wharf caused a crater and casualties, another demolished the upper floor of an office building.  A third bomb struck HMS Olympus lying in No 2 Dock, piercing its hull and puncturing the Dock itself in 17 places.  Damage to Olympus has set the completion of her refit back two months.

HMS Olympus

HMS Olympus


The attack came just hours after a very heavy air raid over the Dockyard and the workers’ community of Paola.  Just after three o’clock this afternoon 20 enemy aircraft swept over the coast and rained dozens of high explosive bombs over the area.  One unexploded bomb was reported outside Ghajn Dwieli Gate.  Adjutant of the Special Constabulary Philo Pullicino rushed to the scene and was shocked by what he saw:

“The scene at Paola was indeed terrifying.  I think it must have been the worst up to date.  The first thing I noticed was splinters of glass inches deep all over the town, far from any burst bombs.  I walked along crunching and breaking glass underfoot. 

There were a hundred houses demolished while twice that number needed new doors and windows.  Roofs and windows and wooden balconies hung imply, overlooking the debris-strewn road.  Electricity and telephone cables were down everywhere.  Here and there water was trickling out from broken pipes.

In some places one or more houses had simply disappeared – nothing remained except an empty space.  The bombs must have been big!  Thank God the place had been evacuated…The town must have been mistaken for a military objective – it had been bombed before and today received the full force of the blow…I spoke to a woman who had been in her house alone when the house next door was demolished by a direct hit…(Her calmness amazed me.)  ‘I have stuck it more than the others, but now I think it were better if we started moving.’”  (1)    


Weather  Fine, warm and clear. 

0810-0840 hrs   Air raid alert for three formations of enemy aircraft which approach to within nine miles of the Island before turning away.  No raid materialises.

1455-1540 hrs  20 bombers approach the Island and carry out a heavy bombing raid and dropping 100 bombs.  High explosives are dropped on Kirkop, Luqa, Paola, Verdala Barracks and the Dockyard, in the sea off Benghaisa and San Rocco, and between Mosta and Naxxar.  Several evacuated houses at Paola are destroyed with five minor casualties among civilians.  Nineteen bombs land on Luqa, including six on the runway causing damage which is quickly repaired.  One bomb lands on the corner of a hangar, destroying the building.  Another just misses a slit trench occupied by personnel of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt., covering them with dust but causing no casualties.  Some motor transport at Verdala is damaged.  One Ack Ack gunner at San Giacomo is slightly wounded.  One enemy aircraft is believed brought down and a second badly damaged.

2110-2140 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four enemy aircraft attack the Island, dropping high explosive bombs near the Dockyard and on Fort St Angelo, damaging gardens, near Tal Bajda and Tal Virtu, and in the sea off Kalafrana.  A low-flying machine-gun attack is made between Madalena Tower and St Andrews Barracks.  The aircraft swoops over the parade ground of Pembroke Barracks, firing its tail gun towards the ground.  Two enemy aircraft are shot down by small arms fire into the sea off Madalena Tower.

2335 hrs  Lights are reported from the west of Verdala, believed possible signaling.  A few minutes later more possible signaling lights are seen coming from Dingli.

Civilian casualties  Michael Falzon, age 70. 


AIR HQ  0445 hrs  Anti-submarine and reconnaissance patrol by Swordfish: nothing to report. 

KALAFRANA  Six recruits medically examined for the RAF.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Dealt with 1 HE 250lb Dockyard; 1 HE 130lb Mqabba.

(1) The Road to Rome, Philo Pullicino, MPI Publishing 2012


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Posted by on July 6, 2020 in 1940, July 1940


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