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7-13 June 1942: Cluster Bombs Scattered Across Malta

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  • Hundreds of bombs target civilians
  • Convoys on the way to Malta
  • UK government considers compulsory evacuation of service families
  • 32 new Spitfires arrive safely
  • Trusty Star sunk

7 June 1942

Butterfly bomb

BUTTERFLY BOMBS DROPPED ON TOWNS AND VILLAGES

Hundreds of dangerous anti-personnel bombs were dropped last night along a flight path over Luqa, up to Ta Qali and out towards the north-west coast.  Both airfields, the lanes and fields around Dingli, and eleven of the elegant streets of Haz-Zebbug have been covered with the small bombs.  Malta’s civil defence and bomb disposal units are now dealing with a volatile anti-personnel weapon: the German ‘butterfly bomb’.

Unexploded SD2 bombs have been discovered only a few times in England since 1940 but the small, insignificant-looking bombs are known to be extremely hazardous.  Although the bomb itself is just eight centimetres long, with its load of 225 grams of TNT and thick-walled construction it can kill anybody within 25 metres and injure people 150 metres away.

The ‘butterfly bomb’ is so named because as it falls an outer shell hinged opens to form ‘wings’. The tiny 2kg bombs are packed into containers holding between two dozen and a hundred each.  The container opens as it leaves the aircraft, releasing the winged bombs to float down like sycamore seeds.  A spindle screwed into the fuze pocket of the bomb rotates, arming the fuze.  After it lands, the slightest disturbance of the bomb will set it off.  350 unexploded butterfly bombs are dealt with by Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal this week.

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 JUNE TO DAWN 8 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; fresh to strong.  Little cloud.

0617-0730 hrs  11 Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  The Spitfires operate in three sections, one of which is unsuccessfully attacked by ME 109s.

0620 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on patrol from Ta Qali: no engagement.

0635 hrs  Air raid alert.  The second section of Spitfires dives on a JU 88 reported over Ta Qali but cannot locate it.  The third section chases two ME 109s but fail to get enough height to make the attack.

0909-1010 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are airborne to cover the High Speed Launch; no combat.

1050-1105 hrs  Three Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept suspected enemy aircraft: raid does not materialise.

1213 hrs  Seven Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.

1225 hrs  Air raid alert.  The Spitfires engage enemy fighters: F/Lt Plagis destroys one ME 109 and F/S Reid probably destroys one ME 109.

1246-1345 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far take over the intercept patrol.

1320 hrs  Air raid alert: there is no engagement.

1450 hrs  Air raid alert: twelve Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled in response.  They patrol until 1530 hrs: no combat.

1655-1727 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are airborne on patrol: no sightings.

1816 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept approaching hostile aircraft.

1830 hrs  Air raid alert sounds for approaching Italian fighters.  Sgt Yarra damages two Re 2001s.

1940-1945 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft; no combat.

2206-2321 hrs  Air raid alert.  Twelve enemy raiders cross the coast: eight Cant Cz 1007s and four JU 87s flown by Italian pilots. They drop high explosive bombs on the Luqa, Hal Far and Ta Qali areas.  Heavy Ack Ack destroy one JU 88.

2210-2350 hrs  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit on patrol; no interceptions.

0415 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

Military casualties  Nil                                Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS 7 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Porpoise sailed for Alexandria and Beryl returned to Grand Harbour.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from LG 05; four Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Wellingtons to LG 222; one Hudson to Gibraltar.

LUQA  0840-1230 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Cagliari Harbour, Elmas Aerodrome, Cape Bon, Trapani and Palermo.  1330-1554 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance east Sicilian aerodromes and San Giovanni.  1720-1910 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance south Sicilian aerodromes.  2300-0330 hrs  Seven Wellingtons 104 Squadron carry out bombing attack on Cagliari town.  Bombs are dropped in the target area causing many small fires in the area of the railway station and San Augusta Barracks.

TA QALI  Station stood down.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 13; dealt with 2 (1 x 500kg, 1 x 250kg).

8 June 1942

ENEMY SHIPS UNDER SURVEILLANCE TO PROTECT CONVOY

Italian cruiser Trento

Convoys have departed from both the eastern and western Mediterranean, headed for Malta.  The Island’s photographic reconnaissance unit (PRU) is concentrating on movements and disposition of the Italian fleet, to ward off any attacks.  Today PRU reported that both the Littorio and all three serviceable Cavour battleships are located at Taranto, along with the cruisers Trento and Gorizia, and two Condottieri class cruisers.  Reconnaissance of Cagliari shows that two cruisers, three destroyers and six submarines are lying in readiness for the western convoy.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 JUNE TO DAWN 9 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

0600-0715 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on shipping patrol.

0740-0830 hrs; 0820-0845 hrs; 0840-0930 hrs   Four and five Spitfires of 601 Squadron Luqa and four of 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol: no interceptions.

0930 hrs  Two delayed-action bombs explode at Luqa, damaging a Spitfire and wounding three soldiers.

1025-1125 hrs; 1105-1130 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa and four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no interceptions.

1155 hrs  Nine Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept an incoming formation of ME 109s.

1200 hrs  The air raid alert sounds.  The Spitfires attack: F/Sgt Brown destroys one ME 109; P/O Barlow is jumped by the enemy and does not return.

1212-1255 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne: no contacts.

1345-1445 hrs  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali carry out a search for P/O Barlow but find nothing.

1615 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft. 

1625 hrs  The air raid alert sounds as the aircraft approach the Island.  The Spitfires intercept four ME 109s.

1645 hrs  F/Sgt Butler is fired at and is forced to make a crash landing in fields near Luqa aerodrome.

1925-2025 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa: no interceptions.

2215 hrs  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit is scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.

2225-2320 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four bombers. one of which is identified as a JU 88, use flares to illuminate targets and then drop bombs in the Luqa and Safi area.

2241-2318 hrs; 0040-0510 hrs  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit continues on patrol: no interceptions.

0420 hrs  Air raid alert: no bombing.

Military casualties  Flying Officer Leslie Barlow, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 603 Squadron.  Shot down by German ME 109 fighters.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 8 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Grand Harbour entrance sweep abandoned owing to engine room defect in Tug Robust. Beryl proceeded to Marsaxlokk to act as Asdic link for Clyde arriving from Gibraltar.  Clyde arrived and secured alongside Shell Pier at 2200.   Beryl returned to Grand Harbour.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Flamingo, one Hudson, one Wellington from Gibraltar; two Wellingtons from Shallufa; three Baltimores from LG 121.  Departures  One CW 20, one Hudson to Gibraltar; one Lodestar, one Flamingo to Heliopolis, three Wellingtons, one Spitfire to LG 222.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed after combat; pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire shot down in combat; pilot believed killed.

HAL FAR  185 Squadron are placed on one hour readiness: no scrambles.

LUQA  1715-2015 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) Taranto Harbour.  2223-0510 hrs  One Wellington dispatched to locate and bomb and train Swordfish onto southbound convoy.  Three destroyers and one motor torpedo boat located 001 degrees Cape San Vito, course north east.  The Wellington attacked: one bomb fell about ten yards from the bows of one of the destroyers.  2150-0340 hrs  Eight Wellingtons 104 Squadron despatched to bomb shipping and docks at Taranto.  Raid reported as successful; two fires were started.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  No 2 Section 173 Company re-started work at War HQ.   Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 39; dealt with 3 (3 x 250kg).

9 June 1942

EVACUATION PLANS

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

Up to date evacuation of families has been on voluntary basis and claims of families all services have been considered.  I agree in principle with compulsory evacuation.  As evacuation by air is bound to be a gradual process do not consider that it will have any adverse effect on morale of civil population.  Mass evacuation by ship as visualized in 1940 would have had bad effect.

HMS Eagle brings 32 more Spitfires

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 JUNE TO DAWN 10 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; no cloud.

0530-0645 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali on anti-shipping patrol.

1000-1140 hrs  Eight Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are airborne to escort a delivery of Spitfires; no interceptions.

1050-1150 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept incoming enemy aircraft.

1115 hrs  The air raid alert sounds as German fighters approach the Island.  The Spitfires chase the ME 109s: Sgt Webster damages two.

1125-1240 hrs  Eight Spitfires are airborne from Luqa to act as high cover for arriving Spitfires; no interceptions.

1300 hrs  Air raid alert for a plot of enemy aircraft identified to the north.

1320-1350 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept ME 109s: no engagement.

1820 hrs  Ten Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.

1830 hrs  Air raid alert.  The Spitfires see three Italian bombers with fighter escort and attack: P/O Hurst damages one, believed destroyed.

1837 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to join the attack.  P/O Graves claims one ME 109 destroyed; F/Sgt Evans claims one Re 2001 probably destroyed.

1845 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Ta Qali aerodrome from the eastern dispersal area to the Valletta road.  One Spitfire is burned out.

1935 hrs  All clear.

2051-2135 hrs  Three Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft but sight nothing.

2306-2354 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three raiders drop bombs on the areas of Luqa and Ta Qali.

0330 hrs  Air raid alert.

0400-0600 hrs  One Beaufighter from Ta Qali is airborne on patrol: makes one contact but no engagement.

0505-0544 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy raiders drop bombs near Naxxar, on the Safi strip and in the sea.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Benghaisa  Joseph Zammit, age 72.  Marsa  Gaetano Attard, age 28.    Sliema  John Miceli, age 21.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 9 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY 32 Spitfires arrived having flown off from HMS Eagle.  Five mines swept in Grand Harbour and Marsamxett entrances.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Wellingtons, one Hudson from Gibraltar; one Lodestar from Gambut; three Wellingtons from Shallufa; 32 Spitfires from Naval operations.  Departures  Two Wellingtons to LG 222; one Wellington to Shallufa; one Hudson to Gibraltar; one Lodestar to Heliopolis.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crash landed; pilot uninjured.

HAL FAR  AM Three delivery Spitfires arrive.

LUQA  2200-0435 hrs  Eight Wellingtons 104 Squadron despatched to attack docks, warehouses and shipping at Taranto.  All bombs are dropped in the target area.  A large fire is still burning twenty minutes after bombing.

TA QALI  1550 hrs  Court martial proceedings commenced in the case of three locally-trained airmen who were in No 3 Cave when it was set on fire.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 12; dealt with 4 ( 4 x 250kg).

10 June 1942

In the two years since Italy declared war, Malta has experienced 2537 air raid alerts, 492 day bombing raids and 574 night bombing raids.  (1)

MOTOR LAUNCH ATTACKED: TRUSTY STAR LOST

HMD Trusty Star

During minesweeping operations of the entrance channel to Grand Harbour today, Trusty Star struck a mine 3 miles 054 degrees from Fort St. Elmo and sank. One Maltese seaman was injured, the remainder of the crew being picked up unhurt.  ML 126 was attacked by three ME 109s but managed to shoot down one and damage another. The Captain, First Lieutenant and three ratings were slightly wounded.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 JUNE TO DAWN 11 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly; no cloud.

0922-1025 hrs  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit and eleven Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept approaching aircraft.

0940 hrs  The air raid alert sounds as enemy fighters patrol near the Island.  Two Spitfires attack ME 109s with no observed results.  One Spitfire is attacked by ME 109s but is unable to return fire.

1100 hrs  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept enemy fighters.

1120 hrs  The alert sounds as the enemy approach: the Spitfires engage ten ME 109s and Macchi 202s.  Sgt Gray destroys one Macchi 202; he undershoots on landing and crashes near the western dispersal area of Ta Qali.  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are also airborne but do not engage the enemy.

1245 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled for approaching enemy aircraft.

1315 hrs  Air raid alert as a formation of enemy fighters escort a Dornier 24 carrying out a search near the Island.  F/Lt Lucas and P/O Linton 249 Squadron damage the Dornier.  W/O Ramsey probably destroys one ME 109.

1355 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept another enemy search and rescue mission: they do not engage the enemy but sight a half-submerged fighter pilot’s dinghy with no-one on board.

1810-2000 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to cover the arrival of a delivery flight of Beauforts.

1900 hrs  Eight Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept an approaching formation of four Cant 1007s with 15-strong fighter escort.

1912 hrs  The Spitfires engage the enemy: P/O Sewell claims one Macch 202 destroyed.  P/O Innes is shot down into the sea.

1920 hrs  Air raid alert.  The Spitfires of 249 Squadron also attack the hostile fighters: S/Ldr Grant destroys one Re 2001; F/Sgt Williams damages one.  F/Lt McNair destroys one ME 109.

1949 hrs  The Cant bombers drop 50kg high explosive bombs on the Safi area.

1922-2055 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled to cover a rescue mission by the High Speed Launch which races out to search for P/O Innes.  He is picked up safely and taken to hospital.

2130-2325 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on patrol.

2214 hrs  Air raid alert.  Twelve aircraft cross over the Island singly, using flares to illuminate targets and dropping bombs on Luqa and Siggiewi, including many anti-personnel type.  The Beaufighter destroys one Italian BR 20.

2305 hrs  All clear.

0100hrs  Air raid alert.  One Beaufighter is airborne from Ta Qali on patrol and lands at Luqa at 0220 hrs: nothing sighted.

0335-0440 hrs  Air raid alert.  One Beaufighter is airborne on patrol: nothing sighted.

0058 hrs; 0325 hrs  Total eight aircraft drop bombs on Kalafrana and Hal Far areas and west and north of Gozo.

Military casualties  Sapper Francis Cumming, 16 Fortress Company, Royal Engineers attached to Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 10 JUNE 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from LG 05; one Wellington from Shallufa; nine Beauforts, eleven Beaufighters from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Wellington to LG 05; two Wellingtons to Shallufa; one Wellington to LG 222.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort damaged by enemy aircraft: force landed – Flying Officer George Stead and Wireless Operator Sergeant Jack Cockshott 235 Squadron were killed; rest of crew safe.  One Spitfire shot down into the sea; pilot injured.

HAL FAR  PM  Twenty Spitfires from Hal Far make five scrambles with no interceptions.

LUQA  2155-0355 hrs  Seven Wellingtons 104 Squadron are dispatched on a bombing mission over Sicily.  All bombs are dropped in the dock area despite visibility obscured by a smoke screen and low cloud.  Several fires and many explosions are seen in the target area.  One fire could be seen 60-70 miles away.  2215-0600 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight sent to locate and bomb enemy shipping sighted three merchant vessels of 4-5000 tons and three destroyers, 32 degrees Cape Bon 22 miles.  Four bombs were dropped across one of the merchant vessels and it is highly probable that a hit was obtained.  The rear gunner also machine-gunned the vessel.  2212-0400 hrs  Two Wellingtons S/D Flight are sent to locate and bomb the same convoy: nothing sighted.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 9; dealt with 13 (3 x 500kg, 8 x 250kg, 2 x 50kg).

11 June 1942

MALTA STANDS PREPARES FOR CONVOYS

Fortress Royal Engineers Operation Instruction No 8 issued:  “At a date to be notified later a convoy will be arriving in Malta – essential it be unloaded and cargo dispersed shortest possible time.  Intense period of unloading anticipated 14 days.  Large scale assistance to Royal Navy and RAF will be provided by Army. All Royal Engineers work except essential/not needing transport, will cease with effect from Thurs 11 June until end of intense period. Work of Bomb Disposal Sections will be carried on in normal way except a squad will always be immediately available by day or night to deal with priority UXBs, the presence of which hinders the operation.”

HMS Beryl

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 JUNE TO DAWN 12 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly.

0929 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept an approaching formation of six enemy aircraft.

1005 hrs  Air raid alert.  The Spitfires engage enemy fighters attempting to patrol: P/O Bisley claims one ME 109 destroyed.

1030 hrs  All clear.

1210-1340 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no combat.

1300 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept six enemy fighters patrolling the Island: no combat.

2005-2045 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on calibration test.

2135-2330 hrs  One Beaufighter on patrol: no interceptions.

0133 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two aircraft drop bombs in the area of Falka Gap and Ghain Tuffieha.  104 Squadron Wellingtons leave for the Middle East.  38 Squadron torpedo-carrying Wellingtons arrive from the Middle East.

0210-0400 hrs  One Beaufighter on patrol: no interceptions.

Military casualties  Nil.                                  Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 11 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Beryl, ML 126 and Harbour Launches continued sweep. Beryl’s sweep damaged.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar; one Lodestar to Heliopolis.  Departures  One Lodestar to Heliopolis; one Wellington to Shallufa; seven Wellingtons to LG 106; two Hudsons to Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  185 Squadron is placed on one hour readiness: no scrambles.

LUQA  0605-0915 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) Cagliari and Palermo Harbour.  0605-0920 hrs  One Spitfire PR Taranto.  1130-1510 hrs  One Spitfire PR Naples, Messina, Augusta.  1330-1516 hrs  One Spitfire PR Sicilian aerodromes.  2224-0315 hrs  One Wellington on armed search for southbound convoy: nothing sighted.  Attempted to bomb Lampedusa but Ack Ack was too intense so bombs were brought back.

TA QALI  Court martial adjourned until 27 June.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 6; dealt with 5 (2 x 250kg, 3 x 50kg).

12 June 1942

AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 JUNE TO DAWN 13 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly; 30% high cloud.

German Junkers JU 88

0640 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far and eight of 601 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept approaching formations of enemy aircraft.  A small number of fighters carry out an initial sweep.  They are followed by two JU 88s escorted by twenty German and Italian fighters.  F/Sgt Terry 185 Squadron damages one ME 109.

0646 hrs  Two JU 88s with fighter escort attack Luqa, dropping bombs on a dispersal area, including several delayed-action.

0742 hrs  All clear.

1020 hrs  12 Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept nine ME 109s which approach in two waves to carry out patrols.

1025 hrs  Air raid alert.  The Spitfires engage in dog-fights with ME 109s. Sgt Beurling damages one ME 109; F/Sgt Rae damages one.  F/O Daddo-Longlois is hit in the fuselage, tail and wing by cannon and machine-gun bullets; he is unhurt.

1126 hrs  All clear.

1520-1550 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol: nil report.

1715-1750 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.  They sight an oil patch three miles east of Filfla.

1935 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialise.

2105-2145 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on anti E boat patrol: no sightings.

2140-2315 hrs  Two Beaufighters are airborne on patrol: no interceptions.

2225-2318 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight enemy aircraft approach the Island.  Four cross the coast and drop 2kg anti-personnel bombs from Rabat to Ta Qali and from Safi to Gudja.  Searchlights are active and Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.  Ack Ack destroy one unidentified bomber and damage one JU 88.

Military casualties  Nil.                            Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 12 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde sailed at daylight.  Sweeping continued until Beryl’s sweep was damaged by a mine exploding.  ML 125 unsuccessfully attacked by ME 109s.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Eight Wellingtons, six Beauforts, one Beaufighter from Gibraltar; one Lodestar, one Baltimore from LG 05.  Departures  Two Lodestars to Heliopolis; one Wellington to LG 224; one Wellington to LG 105.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed on landing; pilot uninjured.

HAL FAR  PM 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled three times without sighting any enemy aircraft.  Two aircraft of the NAS take off on patrol: nothing sighted.

LUQA  0750-1110 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Taranto.  2223-0445 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on reconnaissance for enemy fleet in Taranto.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 26; dealt with 9 (1 x 500kg, 4 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg).

13 June 1942

WEEKLY MILITARY SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 13 JUNE 42

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

1.  Air.  Enemy attacks by day remain on small scale.  Only four bomber raids totalling 7 Cants, 3 JU 88s, small fighter sweeps.  Main effort at night totalling 66 raiders.  Large number of anti-personnel bombs dropped by aid of flares near aerodromes.  Damage slight.

Enemy aircraft casualties: by Ack Ack at night 2 JU 88s destroyed, 1 JU 88 damaged.  RAF destroyed 1 BR 20, 1 Macchi 202, 1 Re 2001, 5 ME 109s; probably destroyed 1 Re 2001, 3 ME 109s; damaged 1 Cant 1007, 6 Re 2001s, [?] ME 109s, 1 Dornier 24.  Own casualties: destroyed 3 Spitfires (2 pilots safe); damaged 4 Spitfires.

36 sorties made by Malta-based Wellingtons, mainly on Taranto.  Further Spitfire reinforcements also Beaufighters, Beauforts, Wellingtons and Baltimores.  Aerodromes working to maximum capacity.

Building protective pens (NWMA Malta)

3.  Military damage during week very slight.  Casualties 1 Other Rank killed, 5 wounded.  Army Bomb Disposal disposed of 41 UXBs totalling 10 tons plus 350 x 2kg anti-personnel bombs.

CONVOY FINAL PREPARATIONS

News of an expected convoy bringing much-needed supplies is creating a sense of hope across Malta’s communities.  During this morning a rehearsal was carried out to test the organisation and arrangements to deal with the convoy arrivals.  During the night, lights were exposed at lighter points in Grand Harbour and a friendly aircraft flew over to confirm that they were visible.  The Island is ready.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 JUNE TO DAWN 14 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

0815 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft.

0825 hrs  Two Me 109s patrol to the south east of the Island.  The Spitfires do not engage.

0915-0955 hrs  Four Spitfires are airborne from Ta Qali: no air raid materialises.

1000-1105 hrs  Four Spitfires are airborne from Ta Qali.

1045 hrs  Air raid alert: no sighting of enemy aircraft.

1120 hrs  A Beaufighter from Luqa which has been testing guns at Hal Far crashes onto a car on the aerodrome soon after take-off, killing the driver.  The aircraft is completely destroyed and the crew killed.

1630-1645 hrs  Seven Spitfires are airborne from Ta Qali on patrol: no engagement.

1700 hrs  Cpl Hoskins finds an anti-personnel bomb behind the caves at Ta Qali: it is blown up by Sgt Allchurch.

2100 hrs  Two more anti-personnel bombs are disposed of by Sgt Allchurch.

2150-2325 hrs  One Beaufighter on patrol: no interceptions.

2220 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four enemy aircraft drop bombs in the Luqa area, and between Gudja and Ta Silch.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer John Doncaster, Royal Canadian Air Force, 235 Squadron RAF; Sergeant William White Webster, Observer, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 235 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Rabat  Frank Galea, age 31; Brother Norbert Vella, age 20.  Siggiewi  Joseph Spiteri, age 36.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 13 JUNE 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson, one Beaufighter from Gibraltar; one Lodestar from Heliopolis via LG 05; one Beaufighter from LG 05.  Departures  One Lodestar to Heliopolis.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufighter stalled in a vertical bank during an attempt to shoot up the aerodrome; crew killed.

HAL FAR  185 Squadron is placed on one hour’s notice.

LUQA  0712-0940 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) east Sicilian aerodromes.  0635-1015 hrs  One Spitfire PR Cagliari and Palermo.  0750-1102 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on shipping patrol in central Ionian sea.  1330-1645 hrs  One Spitfire PR Taranto.  2226-0450 hrs  One Wellington despatched on shipping reconnaissance in the Straits of Messina and Gulf of Taranto.  Two cruisers and three destroyers located 331 degrees Cape San Vito 21 miles and drop flares.  2342-0618 hrs  A second Wellington despatched to same area: nothing sighted.  0215-0620 hrs  Two Wellingtons 38 Squadron sent to strike convoy in co-operation with earlier Wellingtons.  Aircraft due to act as flare carrier crashed on take-off: torpedo attack not made as enemy naval force not seen.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Lt G D Carroll invalided to UK. Amendment No 1 to Fort RE OP Inst No 8 issued.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 24; dealt with 4 (1 x 500kg,  1 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg, 1 Italian anti-personnel container).

(1)  Malta, Diary of a War 1940-1045, Michael Galea, Publishers Enterprises Group 1992.

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27 May 1942: Malta Bombers Attack Two of Rommel’s Convoys

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MALTA NIGHT FIGHTER ATTACKS E BOATS

S Boat

Just after midnight, a Luqa-based Beaufighter aircraft on night patrol sighted eighteen E boats some twenty five miles south of the island.  F/Sgt Miller and F/Sgt Walsh launched a vigorous attack on the vessels with cannon and machine-gun fire.  They reported seeing definite strikes on vessels and claim to have damaged three of them.

Minutes later E boats were again reported, this time at closer range, near the small off Island of Filfla.  Infantry regiments manning Malta’s nearby coastal defences were placed on alert and the Harbour defences were manned in preparation for any possible attempted landing or seaborne attack.  By 4 am the E boats had withdrawn and beach sentries were stood down.  The night’s events fuel concerns that the enemy is planning an invasion.

MALTA BOMBERS STRIKE AT AXIS CONVOYS AND SUPPLY TRAINS

Luqa based bombers successfully attacked two enemy convoys overnight.  One Wellington bomber took off at ten this evening on a search for enemy shipping off the coast of Sardinia.  120 miles from Cape Spartivento, they located a convoy of two merchant vessels of 3000 and 5000 tons, heading south under the protection of two destroyers.  The Wellington crew targeted the larger of the merchant ships, causing explosions some 50 yards to port.  Bomber and crew returned safely to Luqa at 0325 hrs.

A second Wellington took off ten minutes later on a mission to locate and attack a convoy reported to be heading eastwards from southern Italy.  The crew sighted two 5000 ton merchant vessels and four destroyers 37 miles east of Ponte Stilo and unleashed their bombs.  One was seen to explode close to a merchant ship, which the pilot then closed on and attacked with machine-gun fire before withdrawing.  The bomber landed at Luqa at 0240 hrs.

Nine Wellingtons were also despatched from Luqa tonight to attack the train ferry terminus at Messina.  A heavy smoke screen restricted visibility and their bombs appeared to land either side of the target.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 MAY TO DAWN 28 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly, moderate, becoming south-westerly later.  80% cloud above 15000 feet.  Visibility 10-15 miles.

0742 hrs  A formation of enemy fighters is reported approaching the Island.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept: no combat.

0818 hrs  Enemy fighters are reported heading for Malta.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept but do not engage.  W/O Miller returns early with oxygen trouble.

0830 hrs  Air raid alert: fighters approach but no bombing.

0915 hrs  The alert sounds for approaching hostile aircraft. Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne; nil report.

1553 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali airborne to intercept a reported plot of enemy aircraft: no engagement.; nil report.

1555 hrs  Air raid alert: fighters approach but no bombing.

1910 hrs  A formation of twelve enemy aircraft is reported heading southwards in the direction of Malta.  The air raid alerts sounds and four Spitfires 603 Squadron airborne.

1924 hrs  Twelve ME 109s cross the coast without being intercepted.  Four fighter-bombers head in to attack Luqa but drop bombs in fields in the area of Wied il Kbir.

2045-2126 hrs  The alert is raised for an approaching enemy formation.  One Beaufighter is scrambled from Luqa to intercept but develops engine trouble and part of the airscrew flies off.  He lands safely at Luqa.

2300-0040 hrs  One Beaufighter airborne from Luqa on intercept patrol sights an estimated eighteen E boats and attacks them with cannon and machine-gun fire.  Strikes are seen.

2320 hrs  The air raid alert sounds.  Enemy bombers approach the Island and drop bombs on Ricasoli and Luqa.

0050 hrs  The E boats are now reported to be off Filfla.  11th Bn Lancashire Regiment are placed on special ‘stand to’ for beach posts, 18 pounder positions are manned.

0100 hrs  Air raid warning sounds. Three JU 88s drop high explosive bombs on the Luqa area.

0106 hrs  Double sentries are posted by Beach Companies 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt for an E boat alarm.  Patrols are warned.

0120 hrs  1st Bn Cheshire Regiment are called out for partial manning of Harbour defences.  18-20 E boats have been spotted off Filfla.

0357 hrs  Beach sentries 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regiment stand down.

The Island remains on alert throughout the night: the all clear does not sound until 0907 hrs.

Military casualties  Gunner Frederick Fensom, 7th Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Private Francis Lake, 2nd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment; Lance Corporal George Porter, 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Luqa  Rosa Bonnici, age 60.  St Julians  Saviour Magri, age 58.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 27 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  St Angelo and Trusty Star carried out a sweep and cut seven mines off the Grand Harbour.  Four Albacores and two Swordfish on an unsuccessful sortie. All returned.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Lodestars from Gambut; two Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Wellingtons to LG 222; one Lodestar to Heliopolis; twelve Hurricanes, one Beaufort to Sidi Barrani.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire damaged: crash-landed, pilot uninjured.

HAL FAR  1400 hrs  Twelve Hurricanes 229 Squadron left for the Middle East.

LUQA  2050-0456 hrs  Nine Wellingtons despatched to attack the train ferry terminus at Messina.  2210-0240 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on armed search for enemy shipping sighted six vessels and scored a near miss on a large merchant vessel.  2200-0325 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on search for enemy shipping scored near misses (50-60 yards) on the large merchant vessel in a convoy of two merchant vessels and two destroyers.

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 continue.  Party at the Porte des Bombes no longer required.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1130 hrs  Pte G Porter sustained gunshot wounds in the head.  He died on the way to No 90 General Hospital.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 3; dealt with 8 ( 2 x 1000kg;   6 x 250kg).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 vehicles, 4 Officers, 150-250 Other Ranks at Safi strip widening and levelling runway.

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.

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

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2017 in 1942, May 1942, Uncategorized

 

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30 April 1941: Two Nights’ Raids ‘A Nightmare to All Who Lived Through Them’

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HARDLY A PANE OF GLASS LEFT IN VALLETTA

Greek Orthodox Church destroyed

Greek Orthodox Church destroyed

Communities across Malta, both civilian and military, are left reeling after a second night of intense and heavy bombing raids. Substantial damage was done to the Dockyard (see below) but Valletta fared the worst: hardly a window is left intact across the ancient city.  St John’s Co-Cathedral has been seriously damaged; almost destroyed.  The Oratory and Vestry are heavily damaged, while the main door has been blasted and destroyed.  The Museum and precious paintings have suffered badly. The two belfry towers have been damaged.  The church of the Greek Orthodox community has also been destroyed.

The City’s Law Courts, the Exchange, St James Hotel and several banks have been demolished, three cinemas were hit and several cafes, restaurants and business premises in Kingsway were either destroyed or damaged. A total of 47 shops and 27 houses have been destroyed.  Kingsway Main Gate is now blocked by debris.

In the Dockyard, storehouses and wharfs as well as several vessels were badly damaged. The main Malta strike force had left harbour when the first raid began.

In Sliema 86 houses were demolished, another 80 and a convent seriously damaged. 20 more houses and a police station were damaged by bomb blast.  In Mosta mines destroyed several houses.

Clearing debris in Valletta

Clearing debris in Valletta

Further afield, air raid shelters in Luqa and Zebbug were hit by mines. In Luqa 45 civilians taking cover in two adjacent shelters were saved after a dangerous rescue operation by three policemen. In Zebbug both the entrance and the exit of the shelter were blocked by debris from the collapsed house above.  17 were trapped inside: 11 were rescued by the Hamrun Demolition Squad, the other six were found to be dead. (1)

First reports suggest that in total four children were killed in the raids and four other civilians buried under bomb rubble are feared dead; five civilians have been seriously injured.

It has been reported that damage to communications caused in last night’s bombing raid hampered the control of 14 Hurricanes scrambled to counter-attack the raiders and no engagements take place.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 APRIL TO DAWN 1 MAY 1941

Weather  Fine.

0755-0810 hrs Air raid alert for two JU 88 bombers escorted by three ME 109s approaching the Island. They are assumed to be on reconnaissance but fly over Grand Harbour and drop bombs on St Angelo and nearby boats.  An explosion 200 yards offshore causes a dghajsa carrying twelve Royal Malta Artillery (RMA) personnel towards Ricasoli Barracks to capsize.  Witnessing the incident from the barracks, Lieutenant Joseph E Agius dives into the sea and with the help of two RMA recruits rescues eleven men encumbered by greatcoats. (2)

0817-0835 hrs  Air raid alert for a single JU 88 which crosses the Island on reconnaissance.

1047-1120 hrs; 1146-1226 hrs  Air raid alerts; raids do not materialise.

1200 hrs  Communications with Fortress HQ put out of action by last night’s raid are restored.

1757-1836 hrs  Air raid alert for six HE 111 bombers escorted by six ME 109s which approach the Island and drop bombs and mines on the Grand Harbour area including Valletta, where a bomb explodes on the corner of St Nicholas Street and Kingsway. The motor vehicle entrance to St Nicholas St is completely blocked by debris. One bomb lands on Maddalena Sacristy and another on the Orphanage.

In the Dockyard a stick of bombs falls along Garden Reach. A submarine store is demolished and a small fire starts.  The CO2 plant receives a direct hit.  Stores at the entrance to St Theresa Tunnel are damaged and debris blocks the road.  The road outside the East Gate is blocked by a large crater and debris from a destroyed house.  A stick of bombs lands close to the HQ of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.  Anti-aircraft guns engage and destroy one enemy aircraft. 

2034-2254 hrs  Air raid alert for a first wave of 35 enemy bombers including JU 87 Stukas, JU 88s and HE 111s which approach the Island in relays. The first relay of 20 comes in two waves, the first high to attract the defences.  The second wave then glides in low to lay mines in the Harbour and its approaches. Two parachute mines explode in the city, destroying the Law Courts, a church, houses and shops in Kingsway.  Another 15 bombers then approach, dropping parachute flares across Grand Harbour and Valletta followed by 150 high explosive bombs, causing extensive damage.

In the Dockyard a bomb on inflammable stores starts a large fire which is hard to bring under control. The road outside is blocked by a large crater, making it difficult for fire appliances to gain access.  A machine shop is hit, blocking the road into St Theresa Tunnel.  A large bomb on No 2 dock demolishes buildings and causes further damage to HMS Encounter.  No 3 dock caisson receives a direct hit, flooding the dock and with it the vessel Coral. Trusty Star – the only LL minesweeper currently in action – is sunk at Machinery Wharf. Fermoy in No 5 dock is further damaged and sinks. The Baulk Timber Store receives a direct hit, causing much damage to the roof.  A bomb close to Corradino Tunnel blocks a ventilation shaft. The Boat House is hit by four or five small bombs, not all of which explode. 

Some of the bombers (identified as Heinkels) are illuminated by searchlights over Grand Harbour and anti-aircraft guns put up a barrage; no claims. One Hurricane is scrambled but does not engage the raiders. 

11 more Heinkel bombers cross the coast over St Thomas’s Bay and head for Luqa aerodrome, dropping 53 high explosive bombs across the area. Two mines are dropped on the Ta Karach Ridge, one blows out the door of a gun position. A further formation of 11 HE 111s crosses the coast and attacks Ta Qali, dropping mines and 80 high explosive bombs.  A large mine falls in the garden of the Attorney General Sir Philip Pullicino family just below the bastions in Mdina and fails to explode; the family is evacuated.

Military casualties  Gunner Alfred Allison, 1 Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; 2nd Lieutenant Edgar Bartolo, 1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Joseph Calleja, Royal Malta Artillery; Master at Arms Leslie George Hunt, HMS St.Angelo; Bombardier Joseph Mizzi, 1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Marine Edward Joseph Mullard, Royal Marines; Bombardier Carmelo Pulis, 1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Joseph Vella, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Senglea  Irish Ashmore, age 11; Agnes Ashmore, age 9; Tommy Ashmore, age 4; Charles Zarbe, age 13; Edward Zarb, age 12; Mary Zarb, age 10. Valletta Carmela Caruana, age 71; Vincenza MacGill, age 33; Edwidge Zarb Cousin, age 5.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 30 APRIL 1941

ROYAL NAVY HMS Abingdon is damaged by suspected acoustic mines while sweeping. Royal Navy Bomb & Mine Disposal  Total number of unexploded bombs dealt with during the month: 37.

AIR HQ  Arrivals 3 Wellington. Departures 4 Wellington. 69 Squadron Marylands reconnaissance eastern Tunisian coast.  Three Wellingtons arrived from Gibraltar and left later with a Wellington of 148 Squadron that had been under repair.   

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  C and D Companies spent the day on the practise firing ranges.

1st Bn DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1155 hrs One man was injured at Corradino by a bomb explosion. Strengths 36 officers, 884 other ranks, 2 RAOC (attached).  

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Blitz on Valletta, severe damage to Strada Reale; RE assisted with clearance. Bomb Disposal UXB reported 29; dealt with 2 (2 x 50kg).  Total unexploded bombs during month: reported 190; dealt with 50.

2nd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Battalion strength officers 36, NCOs 24, other ranks 640.

3rd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  Enlisted during April 6 volunteers, 21 conscripts. Strengths officers 28, WO/Sgts 30, other ranks 669.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS    MALTA SIGNALS COMPANY  Four storemen returned from Ordnance Dump, Gozo. Strengths officers 25, WO 8, other ranks 122; Armourers other ranks 7; Artisans other ranks 4. 

2nd Bn ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  1700 hrs L/Cpl A Watton buried at St Andrews Cemetery.

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

(2) Malta Blitzed But Not Beaten, Philip Vella, Progress Press 1985

 

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

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2016 in 1941, April 1941

 

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