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14-20 June 1942: Malta Convoy in Fierce Air & Sea Battles

Malta – World War 2. First visit to maltagc70?

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14 June 1942

MALTA FIGHTERS TO PROTECT CONVOYS

At 2000 hrs this evening the Air Officer Commanding called all Malta’s pilots together to announce that two convoys have been assembled in a concerted attempt to relieve the critical supply situation.  The recent reinforcements of Spitfires, Beaufighters and Beauforts are here to help protect the ships from enemy attacks, he revealed.  In a desperate bid to get a sufficient number of ships through to the Island, it has been decided to mount a dual convoy, approaching from the eastern and western Mediterranean, in the hope of dividing the efforts of Axis forces.

HMS Centurion 1918

OPERATION VIGOROUS

Operation Vigorous, the ‘eastern’ convoy of eleven merchant ships with escort, met yesterday with Force A off Tobruk, bringing the total protective force to eight cruisers and 26 destroyers, plus corvettes and minesweepers, and the veteran battleship Centurion. The convoy came under immediate air attack: one merchantman was damaged and another limping into port with engine trouble was sunk by enemy aircraft.

A Malta-based reconnaissance pilot reported today that two Littorio battleships have left Taranto harbour in the company of four cruisers and ten destroyers and at the same time two cruisers moved from Cagliari to Palermo with their escorting destroyers.  The heavily armed Italian naval force is on course to intercept the convoy heading from Tobruk.  Reconnaissance has also revealed that despite reductions in enemy bombing activity over Malta, German and Italian air forces remain in significant numbers on Sicilian aerodromes.  They are believed to be in a state of readiness to attack the two convoys.

Four Wellingtons were despatched tonight to strike enemy vessels reported 60 miles from Cape Geroghambo 60 degrees.  Only one Wellington was able to release its two torpedoes.  The enemy force put up a heavy smoke screen, and although results were not observed, one of the torpedoes was seen to run well.  Smoke screen prevented the other three Wellingtons from attacking.  A shadowing Wellington saw glow on the water after the attack.

OPERATION HARPOON

Meanwhile Operation Harpoon, consisting of six merchant ships carrying 39000 tons of cargo and oil, and the American tanker Kentucky with 14100 tons of fuel and kerosene, left Gibraltar on Friday.  They are escorted by an anti-aircraft cruiser, HMS Cairo, nine destroyers, the fast minelayer HMS Welshman and a number of smaller ships.  Further cover is being provided by HMS Malaya, carriers Argus and Eagle carrying operational aircraft, three cruisers and eight destroyers.

MV Tanimbar

The ‘western’ convoy was also attacked today, by the Italian Regia Aeronautica: torpedoes sank the freighter Tanimbar and damaged the cruiser Liverpool which has been taken in tow by AntelopeArgus and Eagle were also hit, with the loss of some crew.  Under orders not to enter Malta in order to save fuel, the protective escort returned to Gibraltar leaving the remaining merchantmen with less cover.  HMS Welshman has left the convoy and is heading alone at speed for Malta.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 JUNE TO DAWN 15 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly. 100% cloud; Slight rain.

0630-0709 hrs  Three Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to provide top cover for 601 Squadron.

0810 hrs  Eight ME 109s patrol over the Island at 20000 feet.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept: they sight four ME 109s but the enemy fighters immediately dive away.

0817-0850 hrs  Five Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

PM  Four aircraft 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled three times without sighting the enemy.  One aircraft of NAS out on patrol: no sightings.

1330-1335 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept a single approaching aircraft which is later identified as friendly.

1345-1410 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol: nil report.

2155-2315 hrs  One Beaufighter on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft: claims one JU 88 destroyed.

2213 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy aircraft drop bombs anti-personnel bombs on Safi, Hal Far and in the sea.

2215-2345 hrs  One Beaufighter is on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

0140 hrs; 0350 hrs  Air raid alerts.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 14 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Sweeping continued and Munscair Rock buoyed.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar; one Hudson en route from Gibraltar to Matruh landed at Malta.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Wellington to Shallufa.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington crashed on take-off: crew safe.  One Baltimore crashed on landing from operations: crew safe.

LUQA  AM  One Baltimore 69 Squadron cross-over patrol western Sicily, south Sardinia base.  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) Messina and Augusta.  One Spitfire (PR) Taranto Harbour.  One Baltimore 69 Squadron cross-over patrol Malta, western Sicily, south Sardinia base.  PM  One Spitfire PR Messina and Straits.  One Spitfire PR Palermo Harbour and western aerodromes.  One Baltimore 69 Squadron special search western Sicily, toe of Italy and Gulf of Taranto.  One Spitfire PR Palermo Harbour.  One Spitfire PR Taranto.

1905-0050 hrs  Four Beaufighters 235 Squadron on shipping protection Allied forces: S/L Cook destroyed one JU 88.

2219-0515 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on A patrol, to drop flares if requested: no ships sighted; no flares dropped.  One Wellington S/D Flight on D patrol, to drop flares if requested: two separate aircraft sighted – lights on.  One Wellington S/D Flight on reconnaissance for enemy fleet in the Ionian Sea: sighted one small destroyer.

2311-0655 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight despatched to locate and illuminate Italian fleet.  Sighted five ships: shadowed until requested to illuminate.  Flares dropped to illuminate for Wellington strike.

2335-0635 hrs  Four Wellingtons 38 Squadron despatched to attack Italian fleet.  One aircraft attacked; smoke screen made results difficult to observe.

0350-0920 hrs  Nine Beauforts 217 Squadron despatched to attack Italian fleet.  One torpedo hit one battleship or heavy cruiser, causing a column of water followed by thick smoke.  One torpedo hit on battleship or heavy cruiser causing flames and dense black smoke.  One torpedo hit on destroyer amidships, causing a column of smoke: destroyer seen listing to port.

0450-0920 hrs   Five Beaufighters 235 Squadron on patrol over [Malta] convoy.  F/Sgt Farquhar and Sgt Briffat attacked one Macchi 202 and also observed a JU 88 hit in the windscreen.  Sgt Hall and Sgt Burnside claimed one JU 88 damaged.

TA QALI  2000 hrs  The Air Officer Commanding met aircrew personnel at the Officers Mess.    2110-2200 hrs  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron are despatched to carry out a dusk patrol of the Sicilian coast.  They sight a stationary destroyer half a mile from shore.

15 June 1942

“The air over and around Malta rapidly became thick with aircraft, and this continued until sunset.  Sorties were continually being made by Spitfires, Beaufighters, torpedo-carrying and reconnaissance aircraft.” (1)

SPITFIRES TAKE AIR WAR TO SEA

From dawn today 170 sorties were made by Malta-based Spitfires and another 12 by Beaufighters to cover the transit of the two convoys through the Mediterranean.  They intercepted and destroyed three JU 88s, three JU 87s, three ME 109s, two BR 20s and two float planes, probably destroyed two JU 88s, one ME 109 and one Macchi 200, and damaged five JU 88s, one JU 87, three ME 109s, one BR 20 and one unidentified bomber.  Malta lost three Spitfires and one Beaufighter.

SS Kentucky has been hit

WESTERN CONVOY UNDER FIRE

Reports are coming in that the western convoy Operation Harpoon came under attack early this morning near Pantelleria, from Axis aircraft and the Italian navy.  Despite setting up a smokescreen, two Allied destroyers and three of the merchant ships were hit and disabled.  The damaged Kentucky, with its essential cargo of fuel for Malta’s fighters, was taken in tow but after further enemy action the convoy commander made the reluctant decision to sink her in order to save the remaining ships.  The rest of the convoy including two other damaged vessels went on its way slowly towards Malta.

Several fighter missions were flown from Malta in an attempt to protect the beleaguered convoy.  In a counter-attack by the Island’s air forces, four Albacores released torpedoes at a cruiser, scoring two hits: smoke and steam were seen to pour from the vessel.  Another torpedo was dropped at a large destroyer, scoring a probable hit.  Later three more Albacores attacked and probable hits were obtained by two torpedoes on a cruiser.  Two Beauforts also attacked the enemy naval force striking the leading cruiser.  Other aircraft arriving on the scene reported the whole ship ablaze.

WELSHMAN ARRIVES

After a fast passage from Pantelleria without further incident, HMS Welshman entered Grand Harbour at 0730 hrs today.  The ship was unloaded, oiled and re-ammunitioned, and sailed at 1400 hrs this afternoon to reinforce Force X.

Stricken HMS Bedouin

EASTERN CONVOY ABANDONED

Enemy naval forces were also in hot pursuit of the eastern convoy, which had to undertake a series of direction changes in an attempt to ward off her attackers.  In a fierce sea battle early this morning the destroyer Hasty was disabled by a torpedo, killing twelve men, and had to be sunk.  HMS Bedouin was badly hit and came to a standstill.  She was taken under tow but this afternoon an Italian aircraft scored a direct hit with a torpedo and she sank.  This afternoon the destroyer Airedale was hit several times and disabled; she was later sunk.

Meanwhile, Malta-based air forces launched a series of raids on the Italian fleet, disabling the heavy cruiser Trento.  However, the Luftwaffe continued relentless attacks on the Allied convoy and by 1800 hrs today only six merchant ships remained from the original eleven.

By this evening the eastern convoy ships were facing a serious shortage of fuel and ammunition due to enemy attacks and diversionary tactics.  With a strong Italian fleet still in pursuit, the decision was taken to abandon the eastern convoy operation.  The remaining ships returned to Alexandria: none of the merchantmen reached Malta.

MALTA COUNTER ATTACKS

Tonight five Wellingtons were despatched to attack the enemy force as it returned to Taranto.  One aircraft scored a hit with a torpedo on the port side of the leading battleship, the flash from the explosion being clearly seen.  Despite repeated efforts, a heavy smoke screen prevented the other aircraft from taking aim.

Nine Beauforts attacked two enemy naval forces in position 090 degrees Malta 210 miles.  One force consisted of two battleships, one cruiser and seven destroyers; the other, two cruisers and seven destroyers.  The Beauforts dropped nine torpedoes: one hit a battleship or heavy cruiser, throwing up a column of water 50 feet high, followed by thick smoke and flames visible 35 miles away.  Another torpedo hit was claimed on a battleship or heavy cruiser causing dense black smoke.  A destroyer was hit amidships and left listing to port.

Later 12 Beauforts of 39 Squadron ex Middle East were despatched to strike at enemy shipping.  En route to the target the aircraft were intercepted by ME 109s and two were shot down into the sea, while five returned to the Middle East.  The remaining Beauforts hit a Littorio battleship with at least one torpedo.  A destroyer was also hit amidships and a possible hit was scored on a battleship before the Beauforts returned to Malta.

Photographic reconnaissance later reported that the Italian fleet had returned to Taranto after its attempt to intercept the convoy – but the cruiser Trento was a conspicuous absentee.  A large Italian destroyer was also photographed in tow off south west Sicily.

AIR ACTIVITY DAWN 15 JUNE TO DAWN 16 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; 50% medium cloud.

0610-0955 hrs; 1030-1445 hrs  Eleven Beaufighters 235 Squadron are on patrol over the Malta-bound convoy.  S/L Wigmore and P/O Crow destroy one Ro 43; P/O Cohen and Sgt Nacott chase two JU 88s but their guns will not fire. Sgt Armitage and Sgt Hector fail to return.

0615 hrs; 0715 hrs  Air raid alerts.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept reported ME 109s: no sightings.

0720-0955 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are despatched on a series of offensive convoy patrols.  Convoy observed to be under fire from two forces; no enemy aircraft seen.

0840-1100 hrs  The convoy is not sighted in the given area: eight unidentified warships are seen.

0841-1135 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron despatched to patrol Pantelleria sights two destroyers, then two cruisers with two destroyers and a seaplane 25 miles to the south.

0900-1120 hrs; 0930-1145 hrs  Two Beauforts 217 Squadron are despatched to attack two enemy cruisers and escorting destroyers.  They claim one possible torpedo hit on a cruiser.

0912-1155 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are airborne on offensive convoy patrol.  F/Lt Winfield destroys one BR 20.  P/O Goldsmith destroys one Cant 506 and one BR 20 with F/S Evans.  F/S Farquhason damages one BR 20.  Four enemy ships are sighted: two cruisers and two destroyers.  One destroyer is reported to be smoking from the stern.

Spitfires over Malta

0925-1045 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to escort Albacores on a strike mission against Italian cruisers.  They make no contact with the Albacores but they sight the cruisers towards Pantelleria.

0945-1145 hrs  Two Italian cruisers are seen heading for Pantelleria.  A large patch of oil is observed 30 miles east of Linosa.

0955-1110 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali carry out a patrol: nothing sighted.  S/Ldr Hamilton’s undercarriage collapses on landing; pilot unhurt.

1115-1415 hrs  Eight Spitfires 601 Squadron are airborne on offensive convoy patrol.  P/O Ingram and Sgt Rowlandson destroy one JU 87.  W/O Belcher claims one ME 109 destroyed.  Sgt Rowlandson runs out of petrol and has to bale out: he is safe.  P/O Smith claims one JU 87 probably destroyed and one ME 109 damaged.  2/Lt Bartleman destroys one JU 87 and damages another.

1125-1230 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to cover the return of Albacores.

1210-1320 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron on convoy patrol see black smoke 300 degrees Ta Qali.

1302-1332 hrs  Four aircraft 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne on convoy patrol: no engagement.

1303-1610 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron and two 126 Squadron on convoy patrol.  P/O Scollan probably destroys one JU 87.  Sgt McConnell, 601 Squadron, fails to return.

1330-1345 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron take to the air on convoy patrol but return with engine trouble.

1350-1400 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron on convoy patrol: nothing sighted.

1405-1450 hrs  Four Spitfires  603 Squadron are scrambled to escort the rescue launch: they observe a pilot being picked up.

1409-1640 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron on convoy patrol.  F/Sgt Schade destroys one ME 109.

1455-1730 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron on patrol destroy one unidentified float plane.

1505-1640 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to escort Albacores on a strike mission.  They see a large column of smoke and a cruiser burning 45 miles south of Pantelleria.  Another vessel – possibly a submarine or cruiser – is lying on its side.

1525-1625 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron on convoy patrol: nothing sighted.

1525-1645 hrs; 1540-1700 hrs; 1600-1655 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali at a time are airborne on convoy patrol: nothing sighted.

1612-1706 hrs  Four aircraft 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne on convoy patrol: no engagement.

1640-1820 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron on patrol locate the Malta-bound convoy 20 miles east of Linosa.

1700-1755 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron on patrol see the Malta-bound convoy 15 miles east of Lampedusa and report 20 vessels, including at least two large merchant vessels.  They observe HMS Welshman steaming towards the convoy.

1706-1810 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are on patrol: no engagement.

1730-1940 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are on patrol.  F/O Horne damages one JU 87.  P/O Smith fails to return but is later picked up by the convoy.

1800-1920 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali intercept three Cant 1007s and ME 109s attacking the approaching convoy 30 miles south west of Gozo.  F/Sgt Williams damages one ME 109; F/O Smith damages one Cant 1007.

1802-2010 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron on patrol: no combat.

1805-1925 hrs; 1915-2000 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali at a time are airborne on convoy patrol.

1810-1950 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron patrol the convoy approaching from the west.  F/Lt West destroys one ME 109 and probably destroys one JU 88.  F/Sgt Sim destroys one JU 88 and P/O Sternberg damages one JU 88.  One Spitfire is damaged.

1825-1930 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are on patrol: no interceptions.

1840 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol the western convoy.  P/O Broad destroys one ME 109.  P/O Barol is shot down in the sea but is picked up uninjured.

1920-2055 hrs;1950-2120 hrs; 2030-2155 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali at a time are airborne on convoy patrol.

1924-0120 hrs  Nine Beauforts 217 Squadron Luqa are despatched to launch a torpedo attack on enemy shipping forces but do not locate the fleet.

2020-2200 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron are despatched on convoy patrol.  One crash-lands five minutes later with engine trouble: the aircraft is damaged but the pilot is unhurt.

2025-0039 hrs  Five Wellingtons 38 Squadron are despatched to attack enemy shipping forces.  Only F/O Hawes attacks, seeing a flash of explosives.

2105-2145 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne on convoy patrol.

2125-2212 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are on patrol: no combat.

2140 hrs  The Spitfires intercept ten JU 88s twelve miles west of Gozo.  P/O Jones destroys one, F/O Lucas and P/O Watts jointly destroy one.  P/O Linton damages one and P/O Lucas another.

2145-0045 hrs  One Beaufighter is on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft: no combats.

2221-2310 hrs  Air raid alert sounds for eight enemy aircraft approaching the Island.  JU 88s drop high explosive bombs on the Hal Far, Siggiewi and Ta Qali areas.  Light Ack Ack damage one JU 88.

0245 hrs; 0400 hrs  Air raid alerts.  Italian anti-personnel bombs are dropped on Kalafrana and in the sea off Grand Harbour.

Military casualties  Sub-Lieutenant Cyril Casey, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, Fleet Air Arm, HMS St.Angelo; Lieutenant William Paton DSC, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, Fleet Air Arm, HMS St.Angelo; Flight Sergeant Allen Harris, Royal Australian Air Force; Sergeant Charles Hector, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Pilot Officer Patrick Hedley, Royal Air Force VR; Sergeant Jack McConnell, Royal New Zealand Air Force; Flight Sergeant Alick Greaves, Royal Australian Air Force; Gunner Loreto Cachia, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Naxxar  Paul Vella, age 11.  Siggiewi  Nicholas Farrugia, age 43.  Tarxien  Louis Pulis, age 14.

OTHER OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 15 JUNE 1942

Beaufighter

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufighter from Gibraltar; five Beauforts from Middle East strike.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort damaged by enemy aircraft crashed on landing: wireless operatior injured; remainder safe.  One Beaufort crashed on landing: crew safe.  One Spitfire damaged in combat crashed in the sea: pilot safe.  One Baltimore failed to return from operations: crew missing.  One Spitfire reported missing from patrol: pilot missing.  One Beaufort crash-landed: crew safe.  One Beaufighter missing from operations: crew missing.  One Spitfire shot down in combat: pilot safe.  One Spitfire crash landed with glycol leak: pilot safe.  One Spitfire shot down in combat: pilot safe.  One Spitfire crash landed: pilot safe.

HAL FAR  AM  Four aircraft 185 Squadron are scrambled on two occasions without sighting the enemy.      0845-1150 hrs  Four Albacores of the NAS were airborne on strike.  Two scored strikes on a cruiser and another a probable strike on the same cruiser.  The fourth scored a hit on a large destroyer. 1508-1843 hrs  Three Albacores of the NAS are despatched on strike, claiming two probable hits on an enemy cruiser.  One Albacore failed to return: Pilot S/Lt Casey, Observer Lt Paton.

LUQA  Ration strength is 2002, the highest in the history of Luqa Station.  0620-0845 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) of western [Malta] convoy sighted two forces – one to the north and another to the south, 225 degrees Pantelleria 25 miles.  Both forces were observed to be firing.  One Spitfire PR Taranto Harbour; crashed on landing on return, possibly due to a burst tyre on take-off – pilot safe.  0650 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on shipping search.  P/O Patrick and F/Sgt Harris fail to return.  0934-1403 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on search for Italian naval units.  1245 hrs  One Baltimore 69 Squadron on patrol; Sgt Baum, F/S Greaves, Sgt Firboy, Sgt Perslow failed to return.  1300-1600 hrs  One Spitfire PR Taranto.  1820-2120 hrs  One Spitfire PR Taranto.  2015-0410 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on patrol, sights a convoy and drops flares.  2210-2240 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on patrol: recalled after 30 minutes.

TA QALI  Constant patrols by Spitfires and escorting single aircraft attacking the Italian navy.  Hits were scored on three battleships, two cruisers and two destroyers.  One vessel arrived.  0820-1125 hrs  Four Beaufighters 1435 Flight saw convoy at 1030 hrs, observing one large ship and three small, and two formations of four destroyers, six motor torpedo boats, four merchant vessels and one tanker in tow by a naval auxiliary, two other auxiliaries, two smoke generators and a large fire on the water surrounded by flotsam.

16 June 1942

FIRST TWO MERCHANT SHIPS GET THROUGH

Troilus

Supply ships Troilus and Orari entered Grand Harbour in the early hours of this morning to a warm welcome, after surviving a concerted air and sea attack on their convoy off Pantelleria yesterday.  The two merchantmen were escorted by Cairo, Welshman, six destroyers, four fleet minesweepers, and six motor launches.

Only two merchant ships of the original six which set out from Gibraltar on Friday under Operation Harpoon have so far reached Malta. The remains of the fragmented convoy had almost made it to Grand Harbour last night when they ran into a minefield.  Orari and Matchless were damaged and the Polish destroyer Kujawiak was sunk.  Badsworth was damaged off Zonkor Point and Hebe by a near miss from a bomb.  While returning to harbour after having acted as a navigational mark, Justified struck a mine and sank with the loss of three Maltese ratings.

Unloading was started as soon as the two ships were berthed, Maltese stevedores working on Troilus and Army personnel on Orari.  They will work continuously day and night, unless large formations of bombers cause the red flag to be raised over the Dockyard area.  Working parties are then sent to shelters ashore, lorries near the ships dispersed, and a smoke screen put up over the harbour.

There was only one air raid during the day, which caused no damage. Cairo and four destroyers sailed for Gibraltar at 1930 hrs this evening.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 JUNE TO DAWN 17 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind westerly, no cloud.

0520 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for approaching enemy fighters.  Three Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept.  P/O Goldsmith destroys one ME 109.

0555 hrs  Air raid alert: four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled: no engagement.

0645 hrs  Air raid alert for sixteen ME 109s and four JU 88s which approach Grand Harbour .  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to intercept.  The Harbour barrage fires and a smoke screen is sent up.  Spitfires of 603 Squadron see the JU 88s turn north east, away from the harbour barrage.  They attack destroyers off Grand Harbour.

0649 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are also scrambled to intercept.  S/L Lawrence fires a short burst at extreme range at a ME 109 which is believed destroyed.

0700 hrs  Unloading of the convoy ships begins.

0800-0920 hrs; 0910-1005 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa at a time are airborne on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

0928-1020 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron carry out a defensive patrol over Grand Harbour: no interceptions.

1000-1055 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne on patrol: no combat.

1025 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for approaching formations of JU 88s and ME 109s.  Eight Spitfires from 185 Squadron are scrambled to intercept.  The Spitfires are jumped by twelve ME 109s.  F/Sgt Vineyard and F/Sgt McNamara are shot down and bale out in the sea.

1027-1135 hrs  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron on intercept patrol sight two men in the sea.

1055-1245 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far search for their two pilots.  They are spotted by four Spitfires 603 Squadron, who guide two Air/Sea Rescue launches towards the spot.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa join the escort until their rescue is complete; they are unhurt.

1112-1200 hrs  Four more Spitfires 603 Squadron patrol over Grand Harbour during the rescue.  Sgt Urwin lands without undercarriage; he is unhurt.

1650-1745 hrs  Enemy fighters are reported heading towards Malta.  Eight Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled to intercept. Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron join the patrol.

1700 hrs  Air raid alert: nine ME 109s patrol the Island. Only two cross the coast but all nine aircraft soon retreat and there is no engagement.

2155-2255 hrs; 2200-2320 hrs  Single Beaufighters of Malta Night Fighter Unit carry out intercept patrols: no combat.

Night  Three alerts for single aircraft.  Bombs are dropped on Mellieha, Gudja, Safi and Kalafrana.  Heavy Ack Ack destroys one BR 20 and damages one JU 88.

2215 hrs  Air raid alert.

0130-0300 hrs; 0330-0515 hrs  Single Beaufighters of Malta Night Fighter Unit carry out intercept patrols: no combat.

0210 hrs  Air raid alert.

Military casualties  Stoker 1st Class Joseph Baxter, HMS Badsworth; Petty Officer Vincent Caruana, HMS Justified; Able Seaman Henry Gatt, HMS Justified; Stoker 1c Joseph Medina, HMS Justified.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 16 JUNE 1942

AIR HQ  Departures  One Hudson to Mersa Matruh; one Hudson to Gibraltar; two Beauforts to LG 05; one Lodestar to Heliopolis.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire in aerial combat crashed in the sea: pilot safe.  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot safe.  One Spitfire landed with undercarriage up: pilot safe.

LUQA   1400-1600 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) of Catania, Gerbini, Gela, Biscaria, Comiso, Pachino aerodromes.  1800-2020 hrs  One Spitfire on PR of Palermo sights a convoy.  He reports one cruiser in two and one unidentified ship with an escort of two destroyers.  1815-2125 hrs  One Spitfire PR of Taranto also photographs two merchant vessels escorted by three destroyers at sea.

TA QALI  Convoy arrived from Gibraltar and 70 airmen accommodated at Boschetto Gardens in marquees, then posted to this and other stations next day. 

17 June 1942

15 REMAINING SUPPLY SHIPS NOT COMING

Just 15000 tons of supplies arrived with the two ships, Troilus and Orari, extending the supplies available in Malta by only eight weeks.  The failure of two massive convoys to bring more than a token delivery of essential supplies is a massive blow to the besieged Island.  The population is already on starvation rations; access to water and domestic fuel is severely limited.  Aviation fuel and ammunition supplies are extremely low.

Lord Gort

The Times of Malta this morning published a broadcast made by The Governor, Lord Gort, last night outlining the implications to the people of Malta:  “Some days ago, two convoys set out, one from the West and one from the East to bring supplies which we need to restore our situation.  The Western convoy had to endure severe and prolonged attacks, and only two merchant ships survived the ordeal.  They are now in the Grand Harbour…These cargoes are essential for our future and well being.  The Eastern convoy, after suffering from prolonged and intense attacks by the Luftwaffe, was ordered to turn back…

I must break to you what the arrival of only two ships means to us.  For some time past we have been short of supplies and further privations lie ahead of us…Every effort will be made to replenish our stocks when a favourable opportunity presents itself.  Meanwhile we must stand on our own resources and every one of us must do everything in his or her power to conserve our stocks and to ensure that best use is made of all the available resources that remain to us.  We must make all possible savings in every commodity and stock…”

Having lost supremacy in the skies over Malta, the Axis have proved themselves to be in control of the seas.  The Island is now isolated and the plan is clear: to starve Malta into submission.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 JUNE TO DAWN 18 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud – haze.

0800 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa and seven of 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching aircraft.  They are airborne too late to intercept one JU 88 and five ME 109s which fly over the Island at 20000 feet.

0900-0940 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron patrol near the Sicilian coast but make no interceptions.

1045-1120 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol: nil report.

1141-1229 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

1405-1455 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne on patrol: nil report.

1545-1705 hrs  Eleven Spitfires 601 Squadron are airborne on patrol: no combat.

1735-1830 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy fighters which carry out a patrol: P/O Goldsmith claims one ME 109 damaged.

1803-1838 hrs  Eight Spitfires 601 Squadron are on patrol: no combat.

1930 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept an approaching small formation of enemy fighters which trigger the air raid alert: no engagement.

2337-2352 hrs  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit airborne on patrol: destroys one JU 88.  bombs are jettisoned in the sea north of Mellieha.

0100 hrs  Air raid alert.

Military casualties  WOI Frederick White, Corps of Military Police.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 17 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Two magnetic mines were detonated by Swona in Grand Harbour entrance channels.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Heliopolis.  Departures  One Beaufort to LG 05; one Lodestar to Heliopolis.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington crashed due to engine failure: pilot safe, rest of crew injured.

LUQA  0730-0945 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) Tripoli.  1410-1815 hrs  One Spitfire PR Lecca, Reggio, Bari and Foggia.   

18 June 1942

CHURCHILL MESSAGE OF SUPPORT 

“It is a great comfort to me to feel that you are in full control of this vital island fortress.  You may be sure we will do everything to help you.”  Winston Churchill to Lord Gort, 18/6/42 (1)

Spitfires 601 Squadron

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 JUNE TO DAWN 19 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind easterly; strong.  80% cloud.

1035 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept three approaching enemy aircraft which trigger the alert, then carry out a patrol: no engagement.

1040-1205 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are on patrol: no combat.

1145-1215 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne on intercept patrol: no combat.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                   Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 18 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Three mines detonated in Marsamxett and Grand Harbour entrance channel.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Hudsons from Gibraltar; one Lodestar from Heliopolis.  Departures  Three Hudsons to Gibraltar. 

19 June 1942

A Fairey Albacore of the Fleet Air Arm crashed at 1030 hrs this morning shortly after take off from Hal Far on a test flight.  Four soldiers of 2nd Battalion the Devonshire Regiment, Lance Corporals Williams and Winsor, and Privates Sutton and Downs, hurried to the rescue and managed to help the injured pilot, Sub-Lieutenant Jordan, to safety.  The observer, Sub-Lieutenant Todd, was killed in the crash and the soldiers carefully rcovered his dead body from the wreckage.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 JUNE TO DAWN 20 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly; 100% medium cloud.

0630 hrs  Air raid alert.

0640-0730 hrs  Seven Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept and attack one ME 109: no claims.  Two ME 109s carry out reconnaissance of Grand Harbour at 15000 feet.

0730 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six ME 109s are reported approaching the Island.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept: no combat.  Four patrol while two carry out reconnaissance of Grand Harbour at 18000 feet.

1015-1100 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol: nil report.

1210-1320 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali and nine Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne on patrol: no interceptions.

1410-1450 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are on intercept patrol: nil report.

1535-1620 hrs  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are on intercept patrol: no combat.

1729 hrs  Three enemy fighters carry out a patrol. Seven Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no engagement.

1800 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

1904-1930 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are on patrol: no combat.

2000-2030 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are on patrol: no sightings or combat.

2145 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching hostile aircraft.  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit to intercept: no combat.  The Beaufighter remains on patrol until 2308 hrs.

Military casualties  Sub-Lieutenant Richard Todd, Observer, Fleet Air Arm, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 19 JUNE 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Beauforts, twelve Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Lodestar to Heliopolis; nine Wellingtons to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington crashed on take-off: crew safe.

20 June 1942

MALTA ON SIEGE RATIONS – BELOW SURVIVAL LEVEL

Queue for milk

Lt Governor Sir Edward Jackson today announced further cuts in rations to the Maltese population, saying they were “a far greater hardship…than any you have had to bear hitherto.”  He explained the measures were necessary in order for the Island to survive until an undisclosed ‘Target Date’ when further supplies might be expected.

Sir Edward revealed that the rations previous weekly rations would now be issued only every two weeks.  A family of five will now receive monthly: 2000 grams sugar, 1300 ml oil, 400 grams cheese, 200 grams tea, 800 grams fats, 400 grams coffee, 3 bars soap, 4 tins corned beef, 4 tins fish, 4 matches.  The average per capita intake is lowered to 1500 calories per day, which the Ministry of Food in London acknowledges is insufficient.

GOVERNOR REPORTS CONVOY RESULTS TO LONDON

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

Military Situation Report for Week Ending 20 June 1942

1.  Enemy air activity against convoy has been very slight consisting of a few fighters on [reconnaissance] and some night raiders only 12 of which dropped bombs.

2.  Details of convoy operation presumably already known to you.  Only two merchant ships arrived night 15/16 June bringing 15000 tons stores sufficient for approx one month’s supplies.  Separate resume of supply position and other severe cuts now being made has been sent to Mideast defence committee and chiefs of staff.

Large organisation for unloading ships consisting of 2300 men and 240 vehicles from Army daily working in shifts as unloaders, lighter parties, dockside labour, tally clerks, messengers, telephonists and parties for dispersal dumps.  [Motor transport] sub-depots, traffic control, smoke screen party, first aid parties and so on, adapted to situation of only two ships and these unloaded cargoes dispersed in 108 hours working night and day.  No attempts made by enemy to interfere.  Parties on convoy unloading were in addition to 1700 men and 100 vehicles provided for aerodrome ground staffs.

3.  During night raids Ack Ack destroyed one BR 20 and damaged two JU 88s.  RAF over Island and protecting convoy destroyed seven JU 88s, three JU 87s, two BR 20, four ME 109s, two float planes.  Probably destroyed or damaged 12 bombers, 7 fighters.  Attacks on Italian fleet made by Malta based Beauforts and Wellingtons – results known to you.

4.  Following is total of work on improvement of aerodromes carried out by Army for RAF in last three months.  27 miles dispersal track, 10 Wellington pens, 168 fighter pens, 37 light bomber pens, 21 Fleet Air Arm pens.  This in addition to crater filling, improvement of runways etc.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 JUNE TO DAWN 21 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind westerly, moderate to strong.  100% cloud.

0725 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled and chase six Messerschmitts from five miles north of St Paul’s Bay back to Sicily.

0805 hrs  Air raid alert for a patrol of enemy fighters.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no engagement.

0910-1010 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far on patrol: nothing sighted.

1029-1150 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne on patrol.

1120 hrs  Air raid alert for a small formation of hostile fighters which patrol the Island: no combat.

1140-1200 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali patrol: nil report.

1221-1312 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron on patrol: nothing sighted.

1510-1610 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol.

1600 hrs  Air raid alert for a reported formation of enemy bombers.  The Spitfires see six Messerchmitts but ignore them and fly on in search of the reported bombers.  Two of the Spitfires 603 Squadron see two ME 109s north of Grand Harbour and give chase but do not engage.

1606-2107 hrs  Eight Beaufighters 235 Squadron Luqa are despatched to act as escort for Beauforts: no combat.  They sight one liner of 10-12000 tons with two destroyers.

1715-1800 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron on patrol: nil report.

1817-1946 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far on patrol: nothing sighted.

1900 hrs  Convoy unloading is complete.

1915 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy aircraft carry out reconnaissance of Grand Harbour at 28000 feet.

1919-2020 hrs; 2026-2140 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa at a time are airborne on intercept patrol: no combat.

2155-2355 hrs  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit is airborne on intercept patrol.

2250 hrs  Air raid alert for three approaching enemy aircraft.  Bombs are dropped south of Hal Far and in the sea.  The Beaufighter destroys one JU 88.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                 Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 20 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Swona sweeping Grand Harbour and Marsamxett entrances. Unloading of Troilus and Orari completed.  After four days and nights of constant labour, by this afternoon 12000 tons deadweight of cargo had been transferred to storage facilities. Naval and Military working parties were released and the remainder of the unloading was then completed under normal conditions by Maltese stevedores.  Less than four hours were lost from disruption due to smoke screens during the work.  Although more than ten hours were spent under alert, no bombs were dropped on the harbour area.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Hudsons, ten Blenheims, one Wellington from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; two Wellingtons to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Hudson crashed on landing: observer killed; remainder of crew injured.  One Beaufort attacked by enemy aircraft during a strike: crew missing.

HAL FAR  2327-0448 hrs  Three Albacores NAS took off on strike mission: nothing sighted.

LUQA  1015-1150 hrs  Two Baltimores 69 Squadron despatched on search for enemy shipping were recalled to base.  1131-1430 hrs  Two Baltimores 69 Squadron despatched to continue search.  One sights an enemy convoy of five vessels.  1608-2113 hrs  Twelve Beauforts 217 Squadron despatched to attack enemy shipping. The convoy was not sighted and one aircraft failed to return.  1800-1950 hrs  One Spitfire on photo-reconnaissance photographed enemy convoy.  2201-0404 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight searched Cape Bon area in co-operation with Fleet Air Arm: no sightings.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal for week-ending 20 June: UXB  Reported (50kg or over) 22; dealt with 11(3 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg, 1 x 15kg anti-personnel, 2 x AP containers) plus 153 x 2kg Butterfly bombs.  Work retarted by having to keep a party standing by for priority bombs on Docks area.

(1) The Air Battle for Malta, James Douglas-Hamilton, Pen & Sword Aviation, 2006

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

 
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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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31 May 1942: RAF Wins in the Skies but Belts Tight on the Ground

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“Rations have during the month been considerably reduced, and it is now a case of tightening belts until the next convoy comes in.”  (1)

Kingsway, May 1942 (NWMA Malta)

MAY 1942: THE ARMY VIEW

At the beginning of this month it became obvious that the enemy were not maintaining as many aircraft on the Sicilian aerodromes.  The attacks on this Island were on a reduced scale.  On 9th the Island received large reinforcements of Spitfires.  On 10th a minelaying cruiser brought supplies of Bofors ammunition to the Island and this ship was heavily bombed by JU 88s and JU 87s during its stay in the Dockyard.

The enemy was surprised to find over 60 Spitfires in the air waiting for him and also the heaviest Ack Ack barrage that has been seen over Malta for some months.  The result was – on that day the enemy lost 63 aircraft destroyed or damaged.

Since that time we have had air superiority over the Island.  Since this heavy defeat the enemy used mainly Italian aircraft and crews in his attacks and, although the raids have been on a much smaller scale, the percentage of enemy aircraft damaged or destroyed has been very high.  Towards the end of the month bombing raids against Italian targets were resumed from this Island.

A feature of the month has been the increase of enemy E Boat activity around the Island.  Undoubtedly some of these boats have been engaged in mine laying but this is probably not the only explanation of their activities.  On 17th some of these E Boats were engaged by our coast defences and one was left abandoned.  Rather than let this boat fall into our hands and reveal its secrets it was bombed and sunk by enemy aircraft.  On 18th an Italian came ashore at post T4 and, from information given by this prisoner, it appeared that the enemy may possibly be testing our coast defences with a view to making a ‘Commando’ raid against the Island.

During the month nearly all the troops… who are not manning key positions have been engaged in construction work on aerodromes, and salvage work clearing up the damage caused by the heavy bombing in the previous month.  The work on aerodromes has consisted of building pens to protect our aircraft and standing by to fill in craters and thus keep the aerodromes serviceable.

AIR COMMAND REPORTS ON STATE OF AIRFIELDS

By the beginning of May 236 pens had been completed in the aerodromes.  This work had to be given priority over slit trenches, because of the delay in the dispersal programmes.  The allowance of petrol to the RAF was 3000 gallons a week and was not to be exceeded.  All airmen living within four miles of the aerodromes had to march to work.  This limitation of petrol was a serious handicap to aerodrome work.

There was a grave shortage of miners owing to the shelter construction programme, and so any possibility of putting workshops underground had to be shelved, and we had to rely more upon dispersal than on underground workshops.  Stores were distributed to 27 houses throughout the Island and 60 per cent of the work at Kalafrana in engine and airframes repairs was moved to Gzira, including instrument, armament, airscrew, coppersmith and petrol tank repairs.

As regards work on the aerodromes there was a very serious shortage of rollers.  Rollers had to be used and manned during the whole of daylight hours with relief crews.  Often during the whole 24 hours when bombing was heavy and aerodromes had to be made usable.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 MAY TO DAWN 1 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0922 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialize.

1221-1259 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

1340 hrs  Seven Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept an incoming formation of Italian and German fighters.

1345 hrs  The air raid alert sounds as the fighters approach the coast.  603 Squadron Spitfires engage the Re 2001s and ME 109s as they attempt a sweep over the Island.  The Spitfires attack but no strikes are seen.  One Spitfire falls into a bomb-hole while taxiing and breaks its back: the pilot is unhurt.

1508-1610 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are despatched to search a position east north east of Grand Harbour.  They sight debris: an overturned float and a raft.

1804-1843 hrs  Three Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are despatched to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

1945 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for incoming enemy fighters.  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron and four of 601 Squadron Luqa are despatched to intercept enemy aircraft.  They chase the ME 109s but do not engage.

2235 hrs; 2350 hrs  Air raid alerts: raids do not materialise.

Military casualties  Gunner William Chandler, 74th Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Private Domenico Vella, 1st Battalion, King’s Own Malta Regiment.

OPERATIONS REPORTS 31 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Trusty Star, Beryl, and ML 126 sent to Marsaxlokk to sweep the approaches to that Harbour.  HM 235 sweeping off Grand Harbour.  17 tons of oil fuel recovered from Breconshire.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Heliopolis; four Hudsons, two Spitfires, five Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Five Wellingtons, three Hudson to LG 222; one Blenheim, one Hurricane to Sidi Barrani; one Lodestar to Heliopolis.

LUQA  2055-0106 hrs  Six Wellingtons 104 Squadron Luqa were despatched to attack the train ferry terminus at Messina.  The raid was very successful: large fires are seen, believed to be commercial oil storage tanks.  Explosions were seen on the jetty and railway lines.

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

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  15 Malta Volunteer Defence Force fired on Pembroke Ranges.  Shooting quite good.  GOC present.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1300 hrs  One unexploded anti-personnel grenade is reported at 526186.  Strengths:  Officers 36; Other Ranks 833; RAOC (attached) 5; RAMC 1.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.  Strength of battalion: 33 Officers, 654 Other Ranks.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Spr Briffa, No 2 Works Company RE, was involved in a motor-car accident and admitted to hospital.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported nil; dealt with 8 (Italian Thermos).  Strengths  HQ Fortress RE 4 Officers, 18 Other Ranks; 24 Fortress Coy RE 5 Officers, 219 Other Ranks; 173 Tunnelling Company RE 6 Officers 204 Other Ranks; No 1 Works Company RE 5 Officers 225 Other Ranks; No 2 Works Company RE 6 Officers 229 Other Ranks; 127 Bomb Disposal Section 1 Officer 20 Other Ranks; 128 Bomb Disposal Section 1 Officer 16 Other Ranks.

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

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Day working parties building pens for aircraft 6 Officers 200 Other Ranks.  A Company Jebel Ciantar 4 Officers 131 Other Ranks; B Coy Ta Karceppu 5 Officers 122 Other Ranks; C Coy Inquisitors Palace 5 Officers 133 Other Ranks; D Coy Villa Azzopardi, Zebbug 5 Officers 125 Other Ranks; HQ Coy Ta Salvator 15 Officers 261 Other Ranks.  Chaplain and Medical Officer attached.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  The unit has supplied several working parties during the month for Ta Qali aerodrome and the work has consisted of constructing aircraft pens, repairing runways, filling in bomb craters and salvage.  Owing to the very heavy raids during the month this has been very arduous work.

(1) War Diary, 8th Bn The Manchester Regiment, May 1942

 

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30 May 1942: Most Concentrated Attack in the History of Aerial Warfare

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Tug HMS St Angelo sunk by a mine

AIR COMMAND REFLECTS ON CHANGING FORTUNES IN MALTA SKIES

By her resolute opposition Malta has weakened Rommel’s ability to strike at Egypt and is absorbing considerable shock for the Russians by causing wastage, which the German Air Force can ill afford.

Field Marshal Kesselring lost his fight against us when he commanded the German Air Force in the Battle of Britain.  He also failed in his attack on Moscow.  If he fails against Malta a great blow at the heart of German Air Force prestige will have been struck.  When full-scale operations are resumed on the Russian front Malta will almost certainly have a measure of relief by the withdrawal of some units or at least by units based in Sicily getting a lower degree of priority in the matter of replacement aircraft.

The scale of attack against Malta is the most concentrated and sustained attack in the history of aerial warfare.  The average effort of 200 sorties per 24 hours during the early part of April following the 100 sorties averaged during March shows that the utmost is being extracted from the force available.  To achieve this effort two sorties a day by aircraft must be common and a third sortie, particularly by fighters and dive-bombers, is by no means rare.  This intensive use of units over a confined area in which defences are highly concentrated must be producing a high wastage apart from aircraft destroyed.  There are grounds for thinking that the number of aircraft damaged is higher than Malta’s claims. 

Certainly it can be said that, with the resumption of full-scale operations in all theatres, Malta’s contribution to the limitation of Germany’s air power will be felt by the German Air Force for a long time.  War Diary, Air HQ Malta, May 1942

HMS ST ANGELO MINED

HMS St Angelo was sunk at 1415 hrs this afternoon with the loss of four of her crew.  The 150 ton auxiliary tug was involved in a minesweeping operation about ¾ mile off the entrance to Grand Harbour when she struck a mine.  The three other vessels, Beryl, Trusty Star and Swona, returned to port undamaged.

Before being transferred to minesweeping, the tug was a familiar sight in Grand Harbour, ferrying Royal Navy personnel from Fort St Angelo to several destinations, and more recently carrying out rescues from the Harbour waters.  The casualties have been named as Leading Seaman Joseph Debattista, Able Seaman Vincent Farrugia, Stoker Paul Grima and Stoker Joseph Said.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 MAY TO DAWN 31 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly; fairly clear – slightly hazy.

0510-0555 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali conduct a patrol off the coast.  One aircraft sights a patch of oil two miles off the coast.

1015 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali airborne to intercept approaching fighters; nil report.

1104-1303 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft: no combat.

1132 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for a fighter sweep over the Island.

1215-1305 hrs  Three Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to patrol the Island: nothing sighted.

1635-1745 hrs  Eight Spitfies 249 Squadron airborne to intercept incoming enemy fighters; nil report.

1705 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialize.

1810 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for incoming Italian bombers with a twenty strong fighter escort, including Re 2001s and Macch 202s.  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far and five of 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept.

1812 hrs  Three Cant 1007s drop eighteen 100kg bombs on Luqa, causing craters on the runway and damaging one Spitfire. 

The Spitfire patrols intercept the retreating formation.  The cannons of three Spitfires of 185 Squadron jam but Sgt Ferraby is able to fire, damaging one Cant 1007 and one Re 2001.  126 Squadron’s F/Sgt Milner, P/O Johnson and P/O Goldsmith damage one Cant 1007; F/Sgt Parks damages another.  P/O Goldsmith destroys one Re 2001.  Sgt Smith destroys one Re 2001, and damages one Cant 1007.

1925-2045 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to escort Hudsons arriving on the Island.

2150 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialize.

2335 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for approaching hostile aircraft.

2355 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne from Luqa on patrol to intercept.  He climbs to 14000 feet and chases a Cant bomber towards the coast of Sicily where he attacks a Cant 1007 bis which is seen to crash into the sea.  He returns safely at 0045 hrs.

0455-0601 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron are despatched to search for a missing delivery Wellington.  They see a large patch of oil five miles north east of Malta.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Arthur Lamb, Mentioned in Despatches, HMS Welshman; Private Anthony Gusman, 1st Battalion, the King’s Own Malta Regiment.

Civilian casualties   Mosta  Francis Bezzina, age 12; Albino Bezzina, age 11; Edwin Gatt, age 11.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 30 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  20 tons of oil fuel recovered from Breconshire.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from LG 05; three Hudsons, six Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One CW 20 to Gibraltar; one Lodestar to Heliopolis; three Hudsons to LG 222.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington crashed on landing: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  2100 hrs  Four Albacores and one Swordfish of the NAS took off on strike.  No sightings and all aircraft returned at 0230 hrs.

LUQA  1215-1500 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Messina and Palermo Harbour.   2104-0345 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight was despatched to locate, shadow and bomb a southbound convoy.  He sighted one merchant vessel and one destroyer and dropped bombs on the merchant vessel which were seen to explode short by 75 yards.  2330-0317 hrs  Three Wellingtons 104 Squadron were despatched to attack the train ferry terminus at Messina.  One turned back with engine trouble.  The others dropped bombs on the target area: no results observed.

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

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  No 4 Section, No 2 Works Company RE completed accommodation for Advanced HQ for GOC Troops, Malta.  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 5; dealt with 4(1 x 1000kg; 2 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg).

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

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

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

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

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ROYAL MALTA ARTILLERY RESCUE SURVIVORS

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

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

MS Reichenfels

MALTA RECONNAISSANCE PILOTS SPOT CONVOY TARGET

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

ITALIANS PILOT STUKAS

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 MAY TO DAWN 30 MAY 1942

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

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

0820 hrs  Air raid alert.

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

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

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

1305 hrs  All clear.

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

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

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

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

1825 hrs  All clear.

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

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

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

0212 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialize.

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

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 29 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  St Angelo and Trusty Star continued minesweeping.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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28 May 1942: Eyes of the World on Malta

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Lord Gort

LORD GORT ADDRESSES MALTA GOVERNMENT

When Lord Gort, Governor of Malta, presided for the first time over the Malta Council of Government, he declared in reply to an address of welcome that the eyes of the whole world were upon the Island.  The three services and the civilian population, he said, stand together, and the fortunes of each are inextricably bound together. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 MAY TO DAWN 29 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly, moderate to fresh.  Fair; 90% cloud above 20000 feet.  Visibility 15 miles.

0950 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron airborne to intercept enemy fighters but are unable to catch them.

1030 hrs  The air raid warning sounds as the hostile fighters approach and carry out a fighter sweep over the Island.

1403-1454 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are airborne to intercept enemy fighters.  The air raid alarm sounds at 1415 hrs as they approach.  The Spitfires do not engage and the fighters complete a sweep over the Island.

1505-1645 hrs  Three Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft which carry out a fighter sweep with no combat.

1638 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept a formation of 24 aircraft, including fighter bombers and fighters.  F/S Schade claims one ME 109 probably destroyed.

1715 hrs  The air raid sounds as the hostile aircraft come within range of the Island.  They approach Luqa airfield and four fighter bombers drop bombs on Luqa airfield, injuring two airmen.

1750-1910 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali airborne to intercept another sweep of fighters: no interceptions.

2030-2115 hrs  One Spitfire 601 Squadron is airborne on night patrol: no comabt.

2207-2220 hrs  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit carries out night patrol: no combat.

2232 hrs  Enemy bombers drop 100kg bombs on Luqa.  One lands between the old NAAFI buildings and airmen’s billets.

2258-0139 hrs  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit carries out night patrols: no combat.

2306 hrs  Enemy raiders drop high explosive bombs on Ta Qali.

0327-0759 hrs  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit carries out night patrols: no combat.

0415 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for incoming enemy aircraft.

0428 hrs  Bombs are dropped in Grand Harbour.

0440 hrs  All clear.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 28 MAY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Lodestar to Heliopolis.

HAL FAR  2130 hrs  Four Albacores and two Swordfish are airborne to attack a southbound convoy in the Pantelleria area.  Three Albacores return early with engine trouble.  The remaining aircraft did not locate the convoy.

LUQA  0803-1030 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance of Messina and Catania.  2121-0427 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on armed search for a convoy east of Malta.  One unescorted merchant vessel was sighted: no strike.  2102-0110 hrs  One Wellington 104 Squadron despatched to attack a given sector of Catania aerodrome.  Bombs were seen to strike on or near main runway, among buildings and causing two small fires.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  0725 hrs  Revert to normal.  E boats believed to have been laying mines.  Working parties continue at Luqa; party for Fuel and Light finished for the time being.

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

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 6; dealt with 3 (1 x 1000kg;   2 x 500kg).

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

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Aerodrome working parties continue.

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.  0715 hrs  Revert to normal conditions.  0725 hrs  Beach posts informed of minesweeping activity at entrance to Grand Harbour.

(1)  AAP, Valletta – The Argus, Melbourne, 28 May 1942

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Posted by on May 28, 2017 in 1942, May 1942

 

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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.

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

 

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