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17 March 1941: Malta Needs Fighters More Than Ack Ack Guns

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More fighters needed to repel raids

More fighters needed to repel raids

ONLY AN IMPROVED FIGHTER FORCE CAN PROTECT THE AIRFIELDS

Increased ground defences will not be enough to protect the airfields without an increase in fighter strength, says Malta’s Commander in Chief. Responding to the Chief of Imperial General Staff about the effectiveness of light automatic machine guns against attacks (maltagc70, 15 March), Lt General Sir William Dobbie stressed again the need for more, and better performing, fighter aircraft as “the only satisfactory solution” to ensure the security of the aerodromes.  He also reminded the War Office that balloon barrages and RAF PAC Units (1) originally destined for Malta’s airfields had been diverted elsewhere.

Ground defences of the aerodromes and flying boat bases are currently: Hal Far Bofors 4, light automatics 20; Luqa Bofors 6, light automatics 31; Ta Qali Bofors 5, light automatics 27; Marsaxlokk (Kalafrana) Bofors 10, light automatics 29. It is believed that the effectiveness of the light automatics could be enhanced by the use armour-piercing ammunition (apparently none is currently available). 

However, Lt Gen Dobbie concludes: “after all, the only satisfactory solution is a greatly increased force of fighter aircraft with adequate performance. I have pressed for this and trust the War Office will press this claim.  Unless and until it is provided, an adequate deterrent cannot be expected, and Malta cannot play its part as a naval and air base.” 

Six Hurricanes have arrived in Malta from the Middle East to reinforce 261 Squadron but the Island’s fighter force is still only a fraction of strength of Luftwaffe attacks. Only a week ago (maltagc70, 7 March) Malta’s Air Officer Commanding, Air Vice-Marshal Maynard, stated that without an increased fighter force he cannot protect the Sunderland and Wellington bomber squadrons based in Malta.

The initial reply from the War Office made no comment on the prospect of further fighters, concentrating remarks on ground defences:

“Experience shows that the Bofors, particularly used with a predictor, is the most effective weapon against the dive-bomber. We request confirmation of this, or otherwise.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 MARCH TO DAWN 18 MARCH 1941

Weather  Cold and wet, with some bright spells.

1036-1050 hrs, 1200-1214 hrs  Air raid alerts for approaching enemy aircraft which turn away without crossing the coast. Malta fighters are scrambled; no engagement.

1800-1811 hrs; 0238-0249 hrs Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 17 MARCH 1941

AIR HQ 0730-1215 hrs 69 Squadron  Maryland photoreconnaissance Naples Harbour. Three convoys heading for harbour.  

HAL FAR 830 Squadron Operational flight against Tripoli postponed owing to bad weather.

1st Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Anti-tank screen demonstration by 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers.

2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Snipers course at Pembroke Ranges.

 (1) parachute and cable

 

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Posted by on March 17, 2021 in 1941, March 1941

 

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20 November 1940: New Mail Service for Troops

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Wellington bombers arrive at Luqa today

Wellington bombers arrive at Luqa today

TELEGRAM SERVICE INTENDED TO MAKE UP FOR MAIL DELAYS

In view of what have been described as ‘abnormal delays’ in the mail service, a new scheme has been agreed with the Air Ministry to provide cheap means of communication for all ranks. It will come into effect immediately.

All ranks may send one private telegram per month to the United Kingdom according to the following conditions:

  1. Only applies to addresses in the United Kingdom
  2. Messages must relate to urgent private affairs.
  3. Text should not exceed twelve words.
  4. Addresses must be as short as possible.
  5. Charge for text will be one penny per word.
  6. Charge for address will be one penny per word.  If the address exceeds five words the excess words over five will not be charged for.
  7. Telegrams are to be written on ordinary service message forms to be obtained from Battalion HQ.
  8. The message will be censored and approved by an officer for transmission in plain language.  Careful censoring is essential as it must be borne in mind that it will almost certainly be intercepted by the enemy.
  9. Records are to be maintained by Companies showing the names of senders and payments made.
  10. Companies will pay into the Command Cashier at the end of each month the total cash received in respect of messages sent.  A statement will accompany the remittance showing the number of messages sent and the Fortress Headquarters authority for the service.

The success of the scheme depends on the careful control of the number of messages transmitted. Contents of messages must relate to essential business of an urgent nature and must not contain terms of endearment, congratulations or greetings.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 21 NOVEMBER 1940

Weather  Cold and damp.

No air raids.

0930 hrs  Six Wellington bombers arrive at Luqa.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 20 NOVEMBER 1940

AIR HQ Arrivals 6 Wellingtons. Departures 1 Sunderland. 

KALAFRANA  One Sunderland left for Middle East with passengers.

TA QALI 261 Squadron moved from RAF Station Luqa: 13 officers and 165 airmen being posted to this station for rations, accommodation, displine and duty.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  Unloading of second convoy completed.

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Posted by on November 20, 2020 in 1940, November 1940

 

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15 November 1940: Picture Postcards of Malta Seized by Censor

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Postcards could aid enemy landing plans

Postcards could aid enemy landing plans

POSTCARDS HOME COULD BE USEFUL TO THE ENEMY

The public has been warned against sending postcards abroad showing views of Malta which may provide useful intelligence to an enemy considering invasion. From now on such postcards will be withheld by the censors, without their senders being notified.

NEW ORDERS SUPPORT FAMILIES OF MALTA TROOPS

Troops of the King’s Own Malta Regiment have been reassured that their families will be properly paid, should any serviceman be admitted to hospital. According to general orders today, there have been cases of servicemen in the General Military Hospital at Imtarfa whose family have not been paid Family Allowance.  The matter has been brought to the attention of the Commanding Officer who has issued immediate orders to rectify the situation.  From now on, officers of the Regiment will ensure that when a married man is admitted to hospital his Family Allowance will be paid directly to his wife, to avoid future hardship.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 16 NOVEMBER 1940

Weather  Bright and fine.

1350-1407 hrs Air raid alert for four or more enemy fighters, believed to be Italian CR42s, which approach the Island ad 21000 feet. Anti-aircaft guns engage the raiders which turn away before crossing the coast.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 15 NOVEMBER 1940

TA QALI  F/O O’Connell posted to RAF Station Ta Qali as Medical Officer.

4th Bn THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  Governor and Commander in Chief Lt Gen W J S Dobbie, RE, CMG, DSO visited the camp.

8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Mine reported drifting near defence post J8.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS Matches and fuzes made up locally burning for 7 seconds ordered for trial with petrol bombs. Large quantity of 18 pounders received from convoy is marked showing life of cordite charges expires 1942 and 1943.

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Posted by on November 15, 2020 in 1940, November 1940

 

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8 November 1940: Former Airport Renamed RAF Station Ta Qali

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RAF TA QALI TO HOST FIGHTER SQUADRON

Ta Qali airfield before World War 2

Ta Qali airfield before World War 2

Malta’s former main airport was officially renamed today as Royal Air Force Station Ta Qali. The airfield’s new Commanding Officer is Wing Commander G R O’Sullivan leads a small HQ staff and the operational force is currently expected to be a single fighter squadron.

Ta Qali, which lies between Rabat and Valletta, was used as a civilian airfield before the war. Obstructions were placed on the site following the declaration of war by Italy, to prevent airborne landings by the enemy.  These have now been cleared ready for the full operation of the fighter station.

WELLINGTONS ATTACK ITALIAN TARGETS

Five Wellingtons from Malta today launched a successful bombing attack on the port of Brindisi, scoring a direct hit on the railway station. Four other Wellingtons attacked Naples, starting fires. 

SEVEN IN COURT ON CONSPIRACY CHARGES

Seven young men were charged in court today with “conspiracy and with having secretly distributed leaflets and other seditious matter”. After a trial before three judges, two of the accused were freed, three were sentenced to three years imprisonment, and the other two defendants were sentenced to four years. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 NOVEMBER TO DAWN 9 NOVEMBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 8 NOVEMBER 1940

AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Sunderland.

KALAFRANA  Sunderland arrived from UK with spares and passengers.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Floating mine reported by detachment at Imtahleb, a few yards from the rockes at Ghar id Duieb. HQ of Northern Infantry Brigade notified.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS  1077 cartridges, life-expired, placed under 100% surveillance test to avoid destruction.

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

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Posted by on November 8, 2020 in 1940, November 1940

 

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30 October 1940: Ta Qali To Become Fighter Station

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Ta Qali

Ta Qali

TA QALI TO BE HOME TO NEW SQUADRON

The former Malta airport at Ta Qali is to be re-opened as a RAF fighter aerodrome. Air Headquarters Mediterranean issued instructions for Wing Commander J R O’Sullivan to proceed to Ta Qali airport with a small headquarters staff for the purpose of forming a temporary one squadron fighter station with immediate effect.  At 0900 hrs today, W/Cdr O’Sullivan left RAF Station Hal Far for Ta Qali with 14 airmen, including three senior NCOs, accompanied by a detachment of 17 men of the King’s Own Malta Regiment for guard duties.

By tomorrow, a maintenance party of 261 Squadron consisting of 24 airmen including three senior NCOs will arrive from RAF Station Luqa for the purpose of maintaining Hurricane aircraft operating from Ta Qali as a temporary measure. The majority of these personnel will continue to be accommodated at Luqa and will proceed daily to Ta Qali for duty. Several buildings at Ta Qali will be taken over for temporary accommodation: Torri Combo will operate as the Officers Mess, the Pottery as Barrack Rooms and Institute. Senior NCOs will be accommodated by 8th Bn Manchester Regiment in Chateau Bertrand until further notice. It is planned that Ta Qali airport buildings will be converted to offices, sick quarters and an armoury.

Ta Qali has not yet been iused for RAF operations. Teenager Charles Grech who lives near the airfield described what he saw: “It was obstructed with old buses, wrecked cars, lorries and hundreds of 50 gallon oil drums filled with earth. They were dispersed all over the airfield in order to prevent gliders or transport aircraft from landing there, in case of an airborne invasion…we once noticed there was a biplane looking very much like a Gladiator parked on the grass on one side of the airfield…this was a dummy made of wood and sack-cloth and it was set up as a decoy to give the enemy the impression that the airfield was operational in order to divert attacks from other targets, thereby giving Luqa and Hal Far airfields a respite.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 OCTOBER TO DAWN 31 OCTOBER 1940

Weather  Fine.

No air raids.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 30 OCTOBER 1940

ROYAL NAVY  Clearance sweep completed by Oropesa. Otus returned to harbour with defects.

AIR HQ  Departures 1 Sunderland.

KALAFRANA Operations by Sunderland aircraft of 228 and 230 squadrons. One Sunderland left for Middle East with important passengers.

2nd Bn DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT 0515 hrs  Bn took part in Southern Infantry Brigade training exercise. Bn HQ and No 6 Platoon under war conditions and standing to until 0830 hrs.

(1)  Raiders Passed, Charles B Grech, trans Joseph Galea de Bono, Midsea Books 2002

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Posted by on October 30, 2020 in 1940, October 1940

 

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18 May 1942: Italian Spy Caught – Reveals Invasion Plot

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RAF Air Sea Rescue Launch

ITALIAN DIVER CONFESSES

A lone figure scrambled ashore this morning in Marsascala Bay and gave himself up to members of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment guarding the coastline.  Italian navy diver Giuseppe Guglielmo was immediately taken prisoner.  He later confessed that he had been dropped from a naval torpedo boat in the bay during the night, with a mission was to investigate the beach defences.  However, he was unable to locate the boat which was due to collect him.  Faced with few options, he decided to put himself at the mercy of Malta’s forces.

SEVENTEEN NEW SPITFIRES

Yesterday afternoon, HMS Eagle sailed from Gibraltar along with HMS Argus, under the protection of cruiser HMS Charybdis and six destroyers, to deliver of another seventeen Spitfires and six Albacores to Malta.  At 0830 hrs this morning, Charybdis escaped with a near miss from torpedoes, fired from an Italian submarine.  Despite being shadowed by enemy aircraft, some of which carried out a brief attack, the convoy reached the rendezvous point.  The aircraft were flown off successfully but the six Albacores experienced defects and had to return to Eagle.  All the Spitfires arrived safely in Malta.

AIRMEN SUFFER FOOD AND WATER SHORTAGES

RAF personnel at Ta Qali will no longer be able to supplement their diet between set meal times.  Commanders at the aerodrome today announced that the sale of bread and sandwiches in the canteens is to stop.  The measure is necessary due to the serious shortage of food supplies and is expected to remain in place until a significant convoy can reach the Island.  The announcement added that water use is to be rationed to nine gallons per head per day.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 MAY TO DAWN 19 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0545 hrs  Six plus aircraft patrol fifteen miles north east of the Island. Then fourteen Caproni Reggiani Re 2001s and ME 109s carry out a sweep at 12000 feet.

0625 hrs  Four Spitfires are airborne from Ta Qali and sight four of the Re 2001s.  Sgt Brennan, F/O West and Sgt Gilbert each destroy one.

0705 hrs  Another Re 2001 is forced to land in good condition near Fort Leonardo; the pilot is taken prisoner.  (1)

0845 hrs  An Italian diver comes ashore at Marsascala Bay and is taken prisoner by 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt.

0845-0925 hrs  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali: nil report.

0927 hrs  Five ME 109s patrol around the Island at heights between 23000 and 15000 feet.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.

0940 hrs  25 ME 109s and Re 2001s are reported approaching the Island.  With the arrival of a new delivery of Spitfires expected, five Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept the enemy aircraft.  Two are recalled.

1028 hrs  The remaining three Spitfires 601 Squadron are jumped by ME 109s.  P/O Scott claims one ME 109 destroyed.  Sgt Farlow is shot down.  The RAF Air/Sea Rescue launch puts out.

1100 hrs  Four Hurricanes 229 Squadron are airborne from Hal Far to escort to incoming aircraft. They engage enemy fighters: Sgt Pendlebury is shot down and killed.  Two Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne to act as high cover for the Hurricanes.  Sgt Yarra attacks four ME 109s, destroying one and probably destroying another.

1114 hrs  Three Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to help protect the rescue launch.  P/O Bisley destroys one ME 109.

1145 hrs  Sgt Yarra 185 Squadron runs short of petrol and has to land his Spitfire at Ta Qali.   Five Spitfires 249 Squadron are ordered up from Ta Qali to patrol.  Sgt Gilbert destroys one ME 109; Sgt Gray probably destroys another.

Sgt Farlow and a German pilot are rescued alive by the RAF launch but Sgt Pendlebury is found to have been killed during the air attack.

1300-1340 hrs  Six Me 109s fly over the Island at 18000 feet and are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack.  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali: nil report.

1600-1705 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are airborne to patrol over the Island: no combats.

1609 hrs  One Dornier 24 escorted by 20 plus fighters carries out a rescue search to the east of the Island.  Fighters are airborne but do not engage.

1724 hrs  20 ME 109s and Macchi 202s make a sweep over the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds: one hits and damages a Macchi 202 at 23000 feet.

1750 hrs  Six Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali: nil report.

1755 hrs  Six Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept the enemy aircraft.  They chase several ME 109s.  Two Spitfires (P/O Peck and Sgt Jones) fire at a ME 109 from extreme range; the aircraft is later seen to crash in flames by Spinola Ack Ack battery.

2043-2133 hrs; 2123-2217 hrs; 2340-0115 hrs; 0050-0400 hrs; 0245-0345 hrs; 0340-0445 hrs  Beaufighters maintain a standing patrol to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagements.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer John Boyd, Royal Australian Air Force; Pilot Officer Robert Charters, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Sergeant James Pendlebury, Royal Air Force VR, 229 Squadron; Lance Bombardier A Aquilina, 2nd Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Johann Lompa, Pilot of ME 109 Messerschmitt shot down into the sea, rescued by RAF Launch and taken prisoner; Tenente Remo Cazzolli, 152a Squadriglia, Re 2001 Pilot, shot down and crash landed, badly injured and taken to hospital as a prisoner; diver Giuseppe Guglielmo, Italian Navy: taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 18 MAY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  17 Spitfires, 2 Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Four Beauforts, two Wellingtons to 108 MU; one Hudson, one Lodestar to Heliopolis.  Aircraft casualties  One Hurricane shot down in combat; pilot missing.  One Spitfire shot down in the sea; pilot injured.  One Beaufort failed to arrive at Middle East: crew missing.

HAL FAR  2015 hrs  Three Albacores of the NAS were airborne to attack a convoy.  The convoy was not located and they returned with their torpedoes at 0245 hrs.  2224 hrs  Four Albacores of the NAS took off to attack a convoy.  Two returned with mechanical trouble and the other two found their target but did not attack owing to unfavourable conditions.  They returned with their torpedoes, landing at 0340 hrs.

LUQA  No bombs on the aerodrome.  1015-1240 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance of Messina and Sicilian aerodromes.  2104-0400 hrs  One Wellington on search to locate and join Albacores strike onto enemy convoy in Tripoli area.

TA QALI  Eight Spitfires arrived ex Carrier.  Consumption of water reduced to 9 gallons per head per day.  Sale of bread or sandwiches in EF1 canteens to be discontinued until further notice owing to shortage of supplies.

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  Luqa working parties increased this morning.  3 Officers and 100 men on pen-building.  2 Officers 50 men crater-filling.  1 NCO 11 men ammunition working party and 18 men driving trucks.  A Company 1 Officer 50 men for Ospizio Depot.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continued.  D Company moved from Jebel Ciantar to Boschetto Gardens.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  One half of No 2 Section, 1 Works Company RE commenced work at Hompesch (accommodation for RA and Infantry).  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 3; dealt with 3 (1 x 500kg, 2 x 50kg).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 trucks, 4 officers and 140 Other Ranks working on pens at Hal Far.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Battalion working parties continue to be engaged at aerodromes doing valuable work.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

(1)  Italian pilot recalls his capture – CLICK HERE

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Posted by on May 18, 2017 in 1942, May 1942, Uncategorized

 

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22 March 1942: Ta Qali Repaired in 24 Hours – Malta Convoy Attacked

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ROUND THE CLOCK REPAIRS GET AIRFIELD UP AND RUNNING AFTER CARPET-BOMBING

Reviewing the devastation caused by carpet-bombing of Ta Qali over the past 72 hours, Air Officer Commanding, Air Marshall Sir Hugh Pughe Lloyd, concludes that the airfield is likely to be out of action for a week.  Responding to a call from Malta’s High Command, the Army joins forces with the RAF in an all out effort to repair the damage and get the runway operational.  Despite enemy bombing, and a heavy machine-gun attack by a formation of Messerschmitts, working parties labour tirelessly round the clock, and by dusk today the airfield was declared serviceable again.

HMS Kingston

FOUR HOUR BATTLE TO DEFEND MALTA CONVOY

Malta’s survival is under threat unless the Island gets essential supplies to keep going and withstand the enemy onslaught.  A small, fast-moving convoy of four freighters left Alexandria 48 hours ago with a large cruiser and destroyer escort, in an attempt to run essential items across the Mediterranean.  By 0930 hrs this morning the Italian Navy had closed on the convoy and attacked the escort ships.  Destroyers Havock and Kingston were hit during a day of engagement, before the attackers were beaten off at 1900 hrs.  The convoy is reported as still heading for Malta with its escort, including the damaged destroyers.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 MARCH TO DAWN 23 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; 100% low cloud.

0655-0801 hrs  Six ME 109s carry out a patrol south east of the Island.

0815-0840 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by seven ME 109s approach the Island.  The ME 109s drop four 250kg and twelve 50kg high explosive (HE) bombs on Ta Qali while the JU 88 carries out reconnaissance.

0852-0907 hrs  Six ME 109s carry out a patrol round the Island.

0917-0937 hrs  Six ME 109s carry out a patrol round the Island.

0951 hrs  ME 109s patrol the Island while JU 88s carry out three bomb attacks.  Bombs are dropped on Luqa and Safi strip, and Ta Qali.  Malta’s fighters and Heavy Ack Ack engage. HAA damage one JU 88.

1020 hrs  Three JU 88s drop bombs in a line from Luqa to Siggiewi.  One Maryland and one Wellington are burned out, two Blenheims damaged.   Two RAF and two Army personnel are injured.

1026 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) engage two JU 88s diving from 5000 to 2000 feet: two guns claim one hit each.  Seven Hurricanes 185 Squadron, Hal Far are scrambled to intercept three JU 88s.  Sighting their quarry over Filfla, pilots P/O Allardice, P/O Wigley and Sgt Robb attack, scoring hits on fuselage and wings.  P/O Allardice fails to return.

1145 hrs  B Company, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment reports one fighter crashing into the sea off west Bassasa.

1235 hrs  Raiders passed.

1250-1305 hrs  Two ME 109s carry out a patrol east of the Island.

1318-1323 hrs  Two ME 109s carry out a patrol east of the Island.

1408 hrs  Ten ME 109s carry out a patrol, then swoop down over Ta Qali, machine-gunning the airfield.  Light Ack Ack engage and ground defences return heavy fire, damaging one ME 109.

1410 hrs  Two defence posts of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt spot one JU 88 flying low towards the coast and open fire: no claims made.

1440-1725 hrs  Enemy fighters patrol the Island.  ME 109s drop 16 HE bombs on Ta Qali. Malta’s fighters are up: no engagements.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1730 hrs  11th Bn Lancashire Regt reports aerial torpedo mines dropped around their coastline.

1733 hrs  Three Spitfires are airborne from Luqa to escort five Albacores.  20 miles from Malta the formation is attacked by two ME 109s.  F/L McQueen attacks one, closing to 50 yards, and sees the ME dive into the sea.

1738 hrs  Four enemy aircraft patrol east of the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1827 hrs  One aircraft approaches to the north of Grand Harbour, then recedes.  HAA do not engage.

1919 hrs  Three aircraft approach to the north of Grand Harbour, then recede.  HAA do not engage.

1938 hrs  One aircraft approaches from the south east, then recedes.  HAA do not engage.

1940 hrs  All clear.

2158-2210 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

Night  No air raids: weather deteriorating.

Military casualties  Signalman Claude Brown, HMS Havock; Ordinary Seaman Arthur Crane, HMS Havock.  Leading Stoker Henry Neuschaffer, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman Daniel Ferris, HMS Kingston; Pilot Officer Philip Allardice, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR), 185 Squadron; Gunner Alfred Segon, 4th Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Mosta  Joseph Bartolo, age 40; Saverin Galea, age 45; Grezzju Schembri, age 9.  Valletta  John Cachia, age 48.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 22 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Olympus sailed for Gibraltar with passengers and stores.  Five Albacores carried out a shipping sweep without result.  An escort of three Spitfires accompanying the Albacores shot down an ME109.  One Albacore landed in the sea off Zonkor Point: two of the crew missing.  PM  Naval engagement: convoy very heavily bombed; no casualties.  Dark CS 15 returned to Alexandria.  Convoy split and proceeded independently to Malta.

AIR HQ  Departures  Six Beauforts, two Blenheims to 108 MU.

HAL FAR  PM  Five Albacores are despatched to attack an enemy convoy but are recalled.  One Albacore is attacked by an ME 109; no damage.

TA QALI   Large Army working parties and salvage parties arranged and work proceeded.  By nightfall runway made serviceable.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  1930 hrs  Storm conditions NORAH and KATE.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Cpl Brown, L/Cpl Thomas and Fusilier Surgent injured by shrapnel.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 30.

 

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Posted by on March 22, 2017 in 1942, March 1942

 

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20 March 1942: Carpet Bombing of Ta Qali – 1000 HE Bombs in 2 Hours

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Ta Qali (NWMA Malta)

 

  • Five-hour continuous air raid from 8am
  • 114 high explosive bombs on Valletta and Grand Harbour
  • 1800kg bombs dropped on the capital
  • Cannon shells fired at civilian area
  • 21 civilians, 5 military killed
  • Army called in to repair Ta Qali runways

MASS FORMATIONS OF ENEMY RAIDERS 

“’There was a red flag warning, I was making my way down the main street in Valletta, clambering over masses of rubble. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining.  Looking up at the bright blue sky between the buildings, I watched as some 30 or more German bombers went over my head… they seemed headed towards Ta Qali.  It was that sort of life.  As far as I could tell, almost everyone else was in shelter or heading for shelter – which I respected.  I was on my own out there.’

Lt Carroll was looking up at the forward party of the 74 aircraft attacking Ta Qali today.  The enemy turned on the airfield with all their might, determined to destroy runways and write off all the aircraft…In just 24 hours, the Luftwaffe dropped nearly a thousand bombs, totalling almost 300 tons, on Ta Qali – an area the size of a small English village.  In a similar period 500 tons of bombs were used across the entire city of Coventry in England.  Here was the first ever instance of carpet bombing on such a scale against a military target.  And it had just been inflicted on the tiny Island of Malta. 

Delayed action bombs were scattered all over the airfield, holding up repair work on the runways.  The RAF called on Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal to help with the sheer number of unexploded bombs (UXB).  In two days, RE Bomb Disposal alone have received over 70 UXB reports.”  (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 MARCH TO DAWN 21 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind south west; clear.

0805 hrs  Four Hurricanes are scrambled from Ta Qali, joining seven others from Hal Far.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to act as top cover for the eleven Hurricanes.  Spitfire pilots spot six ME 109s: P/O McNair attacks and destroys one.

0825 hrs  P/O Leggo’s aircraft is attacked by ME 109s and loses its tail fin, causing it to spin downwards. P/O Leggo tries to regain control but without success, and bales out but at 100 feet his parachute has no time to open: he falls to his death.  The aircraft crashes to the ground between Qrendi and Siggiewi.

0900 hrs  Six JU 88s bomb Sliema and St Julians.  Bombs land on St Julians Police Station and Rockyvale.  L/Cpl Patt and Fusilier Russell of B Company, 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers is killed; two Fusiliers are injured and admitted to hospital.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage and destroy one JU 88. 

0920 hrs  Two JU 88s approach and drop one 1800kg High Explosive bomb each near the Fish Market in Valletta, and in Grand Harbour. 

One JU 88 carries out reconnaissance from the north to the south of the Island at 30000 feet.  Five JU 88s approach Grand Harbour but are turned away by Heavy and Light Ack Ack, dropping all bombs in the sea off Ricasoli and St Elmo. 

0950 hrs  Six JU 88s approach and bomb Marsa, Jesuits Hill and Gzira.  One gun position at Jesuits Hill receives a direct hit: no casualties.  One JU 88 is damaged by Light Ack Ack.  During the raid a Dornier flying boat searches north of the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack engages at extreme range.  Military casualties:  two killed; two wounded.

1245 hrs  Bombs land near D and R Companies of 11th Bn Lancashire Regt, south east of Cisk Brewery.  Cannon shells are fired at Birkirkara, causing civilian casualties.

1250 hrs  Guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) engage one JU 88: one hit claimed.

1311 hrs  All clear.

1618 hrs  One JU 88 escorted by two ME 109s approaches, then recedes, at 25000 feet.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

1707 hrs  Ten ME 109s patrol the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack do not engage.

1720 hrs  44 JU 88s dive-bomb and machine-gun Ta Qali, killing 13 civilians.  Bombs cause considerable damage to barrack blocks and ablutions, roads and pens.  The aerodrome is cratered and unserviceable.  Several aircraft are damaged and one airman slightly injured.  Many fires are started.  Many delayed action bombs are used.  Ack Ack fires a strong response: four JU 88s are shot down and destroyed.

1816 hrs  Four JU 88s escorted by sixteen ME 109s bomb Ta Qali.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.  One JU 88 is damaged by Light Ack Ack.

1830 hrs  Three bombers dropped six bombs on Ta Qali, damaging Camp Magister and one billet.  LAC Armstrong is admitted to hospital, as is LAC Bond, who dies at 2345 hrs.

1919 hrs  About 50 aircraft, including JU 88s and fighter escort, head towards Malta in from North formed up in line ahead, at about 10000 ft. Heavy Ack Ack engage and as the raiders come with range of Bofors guns, the Light Ack Ack gunners open fire.  The shooting is extremely accurate in spite of difficult light. 

Enemy bombers get through to carry out a concentrated bombing attack on Ta Qali.  Bombs rain down on the airfield for half an hour causing numerous craters, though runways are not significantly damaged.  Many of the high explosive bombs carry delayed action fuzes. Large numbers of incendiary bombs are dropped on the camp. Two RAF personnel are wounded.  Other bombs fall near Mqabbe and Tal Liebru.

After dark, three further aircraft patrol to the south, then cross the coast and drop bombs near Mqabba and Tal Liebru and on Ta Qali.

2333 hrs  All clear.

0047 hrs  One enemy aircraft approaches from the north and crosses the Island without dropping any bombs.

0241-0609 hrs  Four enemy aircraft drop bombs on Ghain Tuffieha, St Paul’s Bay and St Julian’s.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Douglas Leggo, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 249 Squadron; Leading Aircraftman George Bond, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Lance-Corporal John Patt, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers; Fusilier Harold (Joseph) Russell, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers; Fusilier Edward Thompson, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Alessandro Camilleri, age 50; Salvo Gatt, age 49; Ganni Portelli, age 55; Emmanuele Vassallo, age 47.  Birkirkara  Anthony Gatt, age 12.  Hamrun  Carmelo Camilleri, age 11; Guisa Cuschieri, age 3; Francis Farrugia, age 13.  Lija  Salvu Mallia, age 45.  Marsaxlokk  Nardu Caruana, age 56.  Mosta  Salvu Dimech, age 70; Giovanna Frendo, age 75; Pietro Micallef, age 45; Rita Micallef, age 24; Duminka Micallef, age 18.  Naxxar  Zaru Grech, age 30; Joseph Sciberras, age 18.  Pieta  Lewis Camilleri, age 44. St Julian’s  Joseph Debono, age 45. Valletta  Margherita Buttigieg, age 44.  Zejtun  Salvu Spiteri, age 30.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 20 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Olympus arrived from Gibraltar with passengers and petrol.  Three Albacores dropped two torpedoes aimed at one light cruiser and one merchant vessel, 2000 tons, escorted by one destroyer.  Result unobserved.  0800 hrs – convoy MW10 sailed from Alexandria.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Beaufighters, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Five Blenheims, four Beauforts , one Hudson from 108 MU; one Wellington from Shalufa.

HAL FAR  PM  Three Albacores 828 Squadron were despatched on a shipping search.  0415 hrs  A Convoy of one 2000 ton merchant vessel, one light cruiser, one destroyer position 190 degrees Messina 23 miles course 200 degrees, speed 10 knots.  Two torpedoes were aimed, one at the cruiser and one at the merchant vessel.  Aircraft had to take avoiding action due to flak.  Strikes not observed.

LUQA 1140-1710 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance Trapani, Palermo and Cagliari Harbours; Elman aerodrome and vis. of Pantelleria.

TA QALI  Severest raids on aerodrome ever had.  Large numbers of incendiary bombs.  All officers proceeded to Camp immediately after first raid, to assist under direction of CO.  Army contacted: immediate repair of aerodrome arranged.  Lessons learned:  underground alternative accommodation should have been provided months ago, both for aircraft and personnel.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Heavy raid by Luftwaffe on Ta Qali.  Battalions of this Brigade provided working parties for filling up craters on the aerodrome.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1800 hrs  This unit takes over the Observation Post at Tal Virtu. 

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Extremely heavy raid by Luftwaffe on Ta Qali aerodrome.  Battalion supplied working party for filling up bomb craters on the aerodrome.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 16-20 March 35 (average 7 per day).

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

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Posted by on March 20, 2017 in 1942, March 1942

 

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16 March 1942: Poison Gas Warning

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Ta Qali

APPEAL FOR VOLUNTARY LABOUR FOR TA QALI

A message has been broadcast across Malta appealing for volunteers to help with improvements to Ta Qali airfield.  The work is needed to prepare the airfield for regular use by the Island’s new Spitfire squadrons.

POISON GAS WARNING

Commanders of the Central Infantry Brigade warn forces that the enemy may attack Malta using any or all of the methods demonstrated in other countries.  The possibility of weapons not yet used in this war, such as poison gas, being employed by the enemy must not be overlooked, they state in their latest Operations Instruction issued yesterday.

A REMARKABLE MOTHER

In the midst of intense enemy air raids, Rogelia Odo Denver realised her baby was about to be born:  “She was taken by car during a raid to the hospital.  The driver stopped some distance from the hospital and so she walked to her destination with the raid continuing – completely on her own.   A normal birth ensued…  

Then three days later when Bernard was visiting his wife and son, and despite a massive red cross painted around the building, there was a direct hit.  Rogelia’s bed was now on the edge of what was the ward on the upper floor.  She was wrapped in sheets and lowered through the rubble to safety.  The baby, rescued by his father, was taken to safety.   Some days later an ambulance was taking Rogelia and the baby back from Imtarfa Hospital to Floriana when a raid stopped the ambulance.  The driver ran leaving mother and child in an unknown area.  Once again Rogelia’s character came to the rescue – no panic, just  find  a shelter.  Luckily an officer saw her plight and showed her the way to a shelter.  The officer then went in search of the driver who was never seen again.”   (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 MARCH TO DAWN 17 MARCH 1942

Weather  Thick cloud.

0746-0749 hrs  Two aircraft approach the Island but recede when still 25 miles north east.

0905-0925 hrs  One aircraft makes a complete circuit of the Island.

0954-1057 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

1058-1114 hrs  Aircraft identified as friendly.

1434-1520 hrs  Four ME 109s patrol the Island in two pairs – one to the east and the other to the west.  Malta’s fighters are up but do not engage.

1725-1730 hrs  Air raid alarm.  Raid does not materialise.

Night  Nil to report.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 16 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P34 returned with 14 prisoners of war, from Italian submarine Ammiraglio Millo sunk by HMS Ultimatum off C. Stilo with the loss of 57 crew.  Sokol returned from patrol north of Lampion having been prevented from attacking two targets by counter A/S measures.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Spitfires, photo-reconnaissance unit, from Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  PM  One Albacore despatched on shipping search: nothing sighted.

LUQA  0712-1102 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron carried out a special search of Messina and Taranto.  0008-0245 hrs  Two Wellingtons 37 Squadron despatched to attack Catania aerodrome.

TA QALI  Kings Own Malta Regiment C Company to be relieved of all guard duties, to be employed in carrying out repairs to the aerodrome, construction of pens and general emergency work.  Twelve of a detachment at Kalafrana are to be posted to Ta Qali.  Guard duties will now be carried out by Station Police.  Extra pens sited and arranged.  No scrambles.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  2000 hrs  Platoon B Company carried out night firing on Pembroke Ranges.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 16-20 March 35 (average 7 per day).

(1) From The Remarkable Woman, Bernard J Denver, 2005

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18 February 1942: Convoy Loss Causes Fuel Crisis

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  • Continuous thunderstorms flood airfields and damage buildings
  • Ta Qali barracks leaking: conditions ‘deplorable’
  • Storm conditions prevent enemy raids and air ops

    Lt Gen Dobbie

GOVERNOR WARNS FUEL STOCKS WILL RUN OUT IN JUNE

From: Governor & C in C Malta                                                    To:  The War Office

Following for Chiefs of Staff.  Most Secret.

The non arrival of the recent incoming convoy has accentuated a supply situation which is already unsatisfactory.

2.  Present position is that supplies generally will last until end of June with following important exceptions.

(a)  Kerosene will last only till mid June and coal early June.

(b)  Motor transport petrol will last until end of April or early May.  This does not include Fortress reserve of 750 tons DTD 230 and 224 which it is essential to keep in case we are attacked.

(c)  Submarine diesel is down to two months and furnace oil (for HM ships and civil generating station) to 5900 tons.  Bombs are at three months on present consumption.  Stocks of cement, timber and small arms ammunition are inadequate.

3.  All service and civil expenditure of petrol has been cut to the bone.  Training of army units is almost at a standstill and important works have been stopped or curtailed.  Further cuts would prejudice our offensive activities and defence of Island.  Consumption of all other items has been reduced to a minimum, especially drastic cuts having been made on coal, fodder and kerosene.

4.  The minimum amount required for month to prevent stocks of all items service and civil falling below present level is 15000 tons, on basis of present consumption reduced as it is to siege conditions.  It would be most undesirable to have to remain indefinitely on this basis.

5.  Until situation in Cyrenaica radically changes difficulties of getting convoys from east will not diminish.  Consider it essential to explore seriously and very urgently possibility using all other available means of getting supplies not only from east but from west also.  This is all the more important if situation French North Africa is likely to deteriorate.  I am sure these things are being closely considered by you but I feel it important to point out very clearly that the problem is an urgent one.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 FEBRUARY TO DAWN 19 FEBRUARY 1942

Weather   Wind north west.  Continuous rain; very cold.

1016-1022 hrs  Aircraft identified as friendly.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Cyril Jennings, Royal Navy, St Angelo (died of wounds); Private Alexander Hawksley, 1st Battalion Cheshire Regiment.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 18 FEBRUARY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Beaufighters from Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  No operations owing to very bad weather.

LUQA  69 Squadron  One Maryland Just 2 patrol; one Maryland Just 1 patrol; one Beaufighter photo-reconnaissance Tripoli Harbour.

TA QALI  Part of Old Station HQ building blown off.  Aerodrome unserviceable due to rain and weather conditions.  Steps taken to find alternative accommodation due to damaged, leaking barrack blocks.  Two houses taken at Mosta and men moved in.  Conditions on camp deplorable.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Petrol-less day.  Heavy rain all day.  No air raids.  Private Hawksley died in Central Civil Hospital.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Information was received that all A Company and details were safe in the Middle East.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Weather very squally.  Marqee used as Orderly Room ripped by wind and had to be struck.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued but cancelled at 1200 hours – extremely heavy rain: heaviest this winter.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER  The Battalion supplied working parties for Ta Qali aerodrome, approximately 100 men.

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

 

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Posted by on February 18, 2017 in 1942, February 1942

 

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