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7 April 1942: Worst Raid of War Destroys Heart of Valletta

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2000th alert today – 17 raid alerts in 24 hours – 273 bombers attack

HEAVIEST BOMBING YET TARGETS CIVILIANS

Stunned at destruction of Royal Opera House (NWMA Malta)

“Valletta is a stricken city…all the beautiful old palaces are bombed, all the churches have been ruined, blitzed…hundreds of houses are no more…nearly all shops destroyed…the streets are impassable, stones dust everywhere…stones are piled high in the streets, often twenty feet high” (1)

Today Malta experienced the heaviest attack ever yet made from the air – and it was directed at the civilian population.  The 280 tons of high explosives dropped on the tiny peninsula of Valletta this afternoon were not stray bombs intended for Grand Harbour.

Luftwaffe operations reports reveal a deliberate intention to bomb Valletta itself, with targets including the Governor’s Palace and several residential quarters in the City.  The enemy employed heavy high explosives for maximum destruction: Berlin radio claimed that many one-ton bombs were used in the raid.

Disregarding the danger to civilians, the bombing was an apparent attempt to destroy the heart of Malta’s government.  The Governor and Commander in Chief has now decided to evacuate the administration inland.

Auberge de France in ruins (NWMA Malta)

Many of the Valletta’s ancient palaces have been badly hit: the Auberge de France is in ruins, the Governor’s Palace and the Market severely damaged.  The Auberge d’Aragon and the Auberge d’Italie received direct hits.  The King George V Hospital in Floriana is destroyed.

It is estimated that 70 per cent of buildings in Valletta and Floriana have now been destroyed or damaged. 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 APRIL TO DAWN 8 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; no cloud.

0905-1039 hrs  A large formation of 85 JU 87 Stukas and JU 88s approaches the Island and attacks in eight waves.  The main targets are Luqa, Hal Far and Ta Qali aerodromes, and Grand Harbour, which is attacked from a different direction each time.  Bombs also land on Cospicua, Marsa, Hamrun, Gzira, Msida, Tal Qroqq and St Julians.  19 JU 87 Stukas attack Kalafrana.  Marsa and Nicola gun positions are both attacked.  Two JU 88 and one ME 109 are destroyed by Ack Ack; others are damaged.

0930 hrs  Eight JU 88s drop ten bombs (including one delayed-action) on Ta Qali.  Three soldiers are slightly injured.

0935-1000 hrs  Numerous JU 87s and JU 88s are engaged by guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) : no claims.

0945 hrs  A bomb on Store Wharf near Sheer Bastion causes a large crater and the final collapse of CDs Offices.  Boom Defence yard, Marsa, is badly damaged, as is equipment round the Dockyard.  The roof of billets in 98 & 99 Cospicua Road collapses, damaging the Bren stores of E Company 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.

1000 hrs  Bombs are dropped in the Ta Klantun area.

1005 hrs  L/Cpl C Worn, manning the Battalion HQ forward Ack Ack position of 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt, fires at an attacking JU 88.  The aircraft’s rear gunner fires back, wounding L/Cpl Worn in his right shoulder.  He is sent to hospital.

1406 hrs  12 JU 88s drop bombs on Luqa aerodrome, destroying the armoury, main stores and ration stores, the NAAFI and the Airmen’s Mess.  Offices and Sick Quarters are damaged; one block containing important equipment and two ablutions buildings are demolished and three others are uninhabitable.   One Beaufort and one Hurricane are slightly damaged.

1415 hrs  Four ME 109s drop bombs on the Ta Liebru area.

1427 hrs  One JU 88 and two ME 109s diving from 5000 to 500 feet are engaged by guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA): no claims.

1450-1515 hrs  Two ME 109s machine-gun the Safi strip from the south west.  225 LAA engage the aircraft: no claims.  ME 109s carry out machine-gun attacks on the Hal Far working party.  Ack Ack light machine-guns of 11th Bn Lancashire Regt engage and damage at least two JU 88s.

St Johns St, Valletta (NWMA Malta)

1749 hrs  156 JU 88s and Stukas attack Valletta, dropping hundreds of high explosive bombs and demolishing the Market, the Castille, Royal Opera House, the Lyceum and many other buildings.  Several buildings in Old Baker Street, St John’s Street and South Street are destroyed.

Floriana is also badly hit.  Part of the Old Railway Tunnel under Floriana collapses, trapping and badly injuring people under the debris.  Houses at the corner of Capuchins St and Granaries Square are demolished.  Houses in Britannia Square and Lion Street are demolished and the Protection Office at Floriana School receives a direct hit.  Bombs explode on the Floriana Parade Ground and the Royal Engineers Married Quarters at Msida Bastion.

1815-1830 hrs  Numerous JU 87s and JU 88s are engaged by guns of 225 LAA; several hits claimed.

2045 hrs  One JU 88 is shot down by a Beaufighter night fighter and crashes on Safi strip: all the crew are killed.

2210 hrs  3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt ordered to stand to: E boats are reported in the vicinity.

Night  Continuous raids: Heavy Ack Ack and night fighters engage.

2230-0052 hrs; 0520-0626 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on interception operations: no engagement.

0300 hrs  One defence post of 11th Bn Lancashire Regt receives a direct hit, killing two Other Ranks and injuring seven.

Military casualties  Signalman Cecil Elems, HMS St.Angelo; Frank Overton, Telegraphist, HMS St.Angelo; Signalman John McClure, HM Tug C.308.

Gunner Wilfred Baines, Gunner George Barnes, Gunner John Barratt, Lance Bombardier Eric Broad, Gunner William Bromley, Gunner William Carruthers, Gunner John Hill, Gunner John Simm, Gunner John Vernon, all 190 Battery, 10 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Gunner Anthony (Emanuel) Cutajar, Gunner Peter Darmanin, Gunner Anthony Grech, Lance Bombardier Spiridione Mizzi, Gunner Victor (Carmel) Tabone, Gunner Carmel Tanti, all 11th AA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Gunner Bertie Allen; Gunner Herbert Fuller, Gunner Richard Thompson, Gunner Harold Meylor (Meyler), all 4th Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Private Joseph Grima, 1st Battalion, King’s Own Malta Regiment; Fusilier Ernest Crosland, 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers; Gunner Peter Taylor, 7th HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery;  Sapper William Waller, 16 Fortress Coy, Royal Engineers.

Civilian casualties  Birzebbugia  Manuela Briffa, age 8; Carmela Briffa, age 6; Caterian Briffa, age 4.  Gzira  Joseph Caruana, age 33.  Luqa  Lawrence Cassar, age 19.  Naxxar  Mariano Sammut, age 24.  Valletta  Luigi Cachia Zammit Slythe, age 60; Helen Cachia Zammit Slythe, age 58; Rev Robert Cachia Zammit Slythe, age 55; Rosina Cachia Zammit Slythe, age 50.  Vittoriosa  Giovanna Catania, age 60.  Zabbar  Ludgarda Debonon, age 60.  Gozo  Joseph Buttigieg, age 60.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 7 APRIL 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Further damage was caused in the Dockyard by air raids.  P31 returned from patrol in Upper Tyrrhenian sea.

AIR HQ  Departures  Three Blenheims to 108 MU.

HAL FAR  Night  One Swordfish RNAS despatched on a special search along the Tunisian coast but had to return due to fuel pressure trouble.

LUQA  1542-1902 hrs One Spitfire 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance Sicilian aerodromes and harbours.  2231-0431 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight special search Messina-Cape Spartivento.  0040-0235 hrs  One Swordfish NAS special search returned early with fuel pressure trouble.

TA QALI  Many scrambles and many air raids during the day.  Boschetto Gardens are prospected for tented accommodation.  Valuable assistance given by the Durham Light Infantry.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  0930 hrs  Main Brigade HQ office, Officers’ Mess and Clerks’ Office demolished: one minor casualty.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT 0800 hrs  Work on Pampas starts again.  Heavy air raids during the day.  More bombs near HQ Officers’ Mess.  Direct hit on B Company HQ: building completely demolished.  Many other bombs in and around the Dockyard.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Bn on Southern Infantry Brigade Exercise No 15.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  Pte Pearce injured by a bomb at Corrodino and afterwards died.  2000 hrs  UXB reported at house 513243.  2222 hrs  Orders for one Light Machine Gun to be mounted for Ack Ack at each platoon locality.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Four Other Ranks are wounded by enemy action while working on Ta Qali aerodrome.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 39; dealt with 6 (4 x 250kg; 1 x 500kg; 1 x 1000kg) not including anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries.

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT 1700 hrs  B Company relieved by A Company on the Safi strip; B Company moving to Gudja Camp.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Bombs in Bn area, 150 yards west of Tal Providence to Ghar Lapsi.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  This unit commences repair of Hal Far aerodrome and construction of aircraft blast pens.  0930 hrs  Intense raid: bombs very near this HQ – minor damage, one casualty.  Direct hit CIB HQ – little damage. 1000 hrs  Fusilier Crosland is killed while firing an Ack Ack light machine gun in a heavy raid at Hal Far.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  During the day numerous hits are claimed on enemy aircraft.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Battalion on manoeuvres as per 6 April.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  Battalion HQ moves to Advanced HQ position; HQ Company to Poor House; A Company to the Race Course.

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

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Posted by on April 7, 2017 in 1942, April 1942

 

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25 March 1942: Battle to Save Stricken Supply Ship, Passengers and Cargo

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HMS Breconshire

HMS Breconshire

ROYAL NAVY, MERCHANT MARINE AND AIR FORCE IN DESPERATE BID TO RESCUE SHIP

Since noon on Wednesday bad weather has prevented the disabled supply ship Breconshire from being towed into the safety of Grand Harbour.  For 36 hours she has lain off Zonkor Point, her passengers and crew stranded and vulnerable to the continuous enemy air attacks.  Her precious cargo includes the only oil – 5000 tons – carried by the convoy but this, coupled with tons of ammunition and bombs, makes her a floating time bomb under fire.

Heavy raids on the airfields have made it impossible for Malta’s fighters get airborne and drive off enemy raiders.  Only the guns of destroyer Southwold, standing by to provide cover, could deter them.  But yesterday she struck a mine and then sank after further damage from an enemy bomb.  The heavy swell was driving Breconshire dangerously close to the same minefield and prevented the tug Ancient from attaching a secure towing line.

HMS Southwold

HMS Southwold

The trawler Beryl made three attempts to get alongside and take off the military personnel, but without success. Finally, in the early hours of this morning two tugs, Ancient and Robust, managed to secure a tow and ease the stricken merchantman towards Delimara Point.  With more help from the destroyer Eridge, Breconshire made the turn round Delimara into Marsaxlokk Harbour, where she reached mooring at noon today.

WAR DIARY, GENERAL STAFF, MALTA 24 MARCH 1942

Breconshire moved from Zonkor to No 1 Buoy, Kalafrana. Persistent raids by JU88 and Stukas against her and other shipping in Grand Harbour. Our fighters, HAA active. No hits on Breconshire.  Discharging cargo by lighter in Marsa Scirocco bay. W/T interception through approaching pilots gave indication of targets.  Other targets: direct hit on 3.7″ gun position St Julians and Fd Bty HQ Paola: four OR killed. Many bombs dropped in districts bordering Grand Harbour, Sliema, St Julians.  Maj P J D Johnson taking over duties of GSO1.  In order to deal with enemy attacks on Breconshire the following RA dispositions were made: four 18 pounder Delimara Peninsula and four 25 pounders Birzebuggia task direct fire Marsaxlokk Bay, four 3″ HAA guns Benghaisa Point, 12 Bofors to area Kalafrana-Marsaxlokk Bay under command 3 LAA Regt RMA. LO from ME (Maj C M L Andrews) arrived in Malta.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 MARCH TO DAWN 26 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind south; 80% cloud.

0855-1040 hrs  ME 109s patrol the Island.

1052 hrs  A delayed Action bomb explodes south of Safi village.

1107-1123 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

1241 hrs  Air raid alert for incoming enemy aircraft.

1339 hrs  JU 87s and JU 88s escorted by ME 109s attack Grand Harbour and Marsaxlokk Bay, where Breconshire is now tied up.  Bombs are dropped through the clouds as well as from a dive.

1530 hrs  Raiders passed.

1545 hrs  Ta Qali’s fighter squadrons operating from Luqa are scrambled to intercept incoming raiders and defend Breconshire.  S/L Grant shoots down one ME 109 and damages one JU 87.  They are joined by eight Hurricanes from Hal Far: 185 Squadron pilots Sgt Eastman, Sgt Horrocks, Sgt Wilson and Sgt Robb account for one JU 87 ‘probably destroyed’; P/O Ormrod and P/O Wigley share a ‘confirmed destroyed’; F/L Lloyd and Sgt Horrocks, P/O Milburn claim one damaged.

1603 hrs  JU 87s and JU 88s again attack Grand Harbour.  SS Essex is hit through the bows and sustains some damage in her engine room.  The Joiners Shop at the Naval Armament Depot is demolished.  King George V hospital is damaged.  Breconshire is attacked in Marsaxlokk Bay but most of the bombs fall in the sea off Fort St Lucian.

1610 hrs   Ta Qali’s fighter squadrons engage the enemy again.  P/O Peck damages one JU 87.  P/O Nash damages one JU 87.  F/O Lee damages one JU 87.  P/O Plagis damages two JU 87s.  P/O McLeod destroys one ME 109. Ack Ack destroy one JU 88 and damage two, as well as numerous JU 87s.

1625 hrs  Two bombs explode near the Quartermaster’s Stores in Paola and one by the Dockyard wall.  Capt Vassallo of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt is slightly hurt.

1630 hrs  One ME 109 is engaged by two guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery; no claim.

1700-1715 hrs  JU 88s drop bombs from above the clouds on Luqa airfield, damaging one Blenheim, and across the Zurrieq-Mqabba area. Four sticks land near Tal Hniena Church, one stick close to Mqabba, demolishing three houses, and one stick north of Kirkop.  Post L22 of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt fires one magazine at a JU 88: no claim.

Night 25/26th  Continuous raids on shipping and dock facilities in Grand Harbour. The enemy uses parachute flares to illuminate their targets. Bombs are also dropped on Breconshire in Marsaxlokk Bay. Bombs, including many delayed action, are dropped across the Island, including 24 high explosives on Gozo.

0325 hrs  Four enemy boats are reported 40 miles off the coast.  All Beach Companies are informed.

0355 hrs  A large number of incendiary bombs is dropped on the Officers’ Lines at Battalion Headquarters 1 Durham.  They are quickly extinguished.

Military casualties  Stoker J Paszek, Polish Submarine Sokol; Private Joseph Abela, King’s Own Malta Regiment; Gunner Percy Morris, Sergeant Joseph Davies, 26th Defence Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Paul Vella, Gunner Pius Tedesco, Gunner Joseph Camilleri, 2nd Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Floriana  Publio Mercieca, age 16. Gzira  Alfred Bellizzi, age 50.  Marsa  Felice Gatt, age 80.  Sliema  Mary Alvarese, age 88.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 25 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  One Albacore on shipping search east of Malta sighted nothing and crashed on landing: crew unhurt.  Poor visibility – moderate air attacks; no particular damage.  2000 hrs  Carlisle and four ‘Hunts’ sailed for Alexandria.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Wellingtons from Gibraltar; one Wellington from LG 09.

TA QALI  Skeleton Orderly Room established on No 10 Cave.  F/L Gibson, Med, admitted to 90 General Hospital.  249 Squadron operating from Luqa.  No scrambles.  Aerodrome nearly serviceable.   Night operations from Luqa; no interceptions.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  1105 hrs  Storm conditions NORAH and KATE cancelled.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Petrol-less day.  Luqa working parties as usual: 2 Officers, 50 men.  68 ME 109s, JU 87s and JU 88s raid Grand Harbour.  Two ME 109s and three JU 87s destroyed.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Breconshire was beached near Marsaxlokk and the remainder of A Company arrived at Battalion camp by 1300 hrs.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Battalion supplied working party of two Officers and 100 Other Ranks to work at Ta Qali aerodrome.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 1.

 

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Posted by on March 25, 2017 in 1942, March 1942

 

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23 March 1942: Malta Convoy Under 9 Hour Attack – Only 2 Ships Reach Harbour

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CONVOY FIGHTS ITS WAY INTO GRAND HARBOUR

SS Talabot (Times of Malta)

Having changed course frequently in an attempt to avoid detection by the enemy, Convoy MW 10 was unable to reach Grand Harbour under cover of darkness this morning as planned.  Approaching the Island in broad daylight, the convoy of four freighters – Breconshire, Clan Campbell, Pampas and Talabot – and their protective force headed for Malta.  From dawn onwards they were under constant air attack by a determined Luftwaffe.  Malta’s fighters put up a strong resistance against a total enemy force of 62 JU 88 bombers and 25 ME 109 fighters.

Only Pampas and Talabot made it safely into Grand Harbour; Clan Campbell was sunk and Breconshire disabled by Luftwaffe attacks.  Chiefs of Staff have reluctantly concluded that until Malta’s air space is safe no further convoys can be planned.  Without essential supplies, the Island will be unable to feed or defend itself.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 MARCH TO DAWN 24 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind south and squally; 100% low cloud – visibility poor.

0514-1423 hrs  62 JU 88s with an escort of 25 ME 109s attack the convoy as it approaches Malta and within Grand Harbour.

Hurricanes and Spitfires are airborne almost continuously from dawn until dusk, carrying out 42 sorties.  F/Lt Lawrence and Sgt Broad 185 Squadron destroy a Heinkel He111.  Sgt Horricks and Sgt Eastman 185 Squadron probably destroy a JU 88.  S/Ldr Mortimer-Rose, Sgt Eastman, P/O Wigley, F/Sgt Fletcher 185 Squadron and two pilots of 249 Squadron damage four JU 88s.  Sgt Ellis, P/O Noble and P/O Beckett score hits on two other JU 88s.  Many others are hit and forced to jettison their bombs.  Two JU 88s are damaged by Anti-Aircraft fire and others by HM ships.

PM  There is continuous Ack Ack fire out to sea but owing to bad visibility enemy planes are not visible.

0815 hrs  Talabot comes within sight of land, welcomed by two Hurricane fighters sent out to meet her.  Within half a mile of harbour she is attacked by a ME 109 but undamaged.

0915 hrs  Talabot enters Grand Harbour followed by Pampas, surviving another Messerschmitt attack in which four gunners are wounded.  Word has spread of the convoy’s arrival and cheering Maltese crowd the bastions to welcome the two freighters, with destroyers Kingston and Havock – both damaged yesterday en route to Malta – as they cruise into harbour.

HMS Breconshire

0920 hrs   Breconshire is in sight of Delimara Point when she is attacked by ME 109s with bombs and machine-gunfire.

0936 hrs  A JU 88 aims a bomb at Breconshire which explodes under the ship, stopping her engines.

1000 hrs  Another JU 88 aims bombs at Breconshire, causing further damage.  In the heavy swell, the ship begins to drift.

1020 hrs  Still 20 miles from Malta, the slower merchant vessel Clan Campbell is severely damaged by a dive-bombing attack.

1100 hrs  Clan Campbell sinks with the loss of her Captain and five hands.  The destroyer Legion is badly damaged.

1200 hrs  Efforts to bring Breconshire into port have to be abandoned: the weather is too rough for towing or disembarkation.  The ship, passengers and crew have to sit at anchor off Zonkor Point awaiting a tow.  One gun and crew of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery is transferred to Zonkor Point to provide protective cover.

Night 23/24th  Weather and visibility bad: no enemy action.

Military casualties  Sub-Lieutenant Basil Rivers, Mentioned in Despatches, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, HMS St.Angelo; Ordinary Seaman Norman McLeod, HMS Beaufort; Petty Officer John Blue, HMS Carlisle; Able Seaman J Hulme, HMS Havock; Able Seaman Arthur Adaway, HMS Kingston; Sub-Lieutenant John Carter, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman John Jordan, HMS Kingston; Leading Stoker Joseph Strange, HMS Kingston; Able Seaman George Querstret, HMS Kingston.  Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Cherry, Royal Artillery, attached to Malta Territorial Force; Gunner William Griffiths, 4th Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties   Kalkara  Agostino Mintoff, age 16.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 23 MARCH 1942

HAL FAR  Eight Hurricanes 185 Squadron from Hal Far are airborne on convoy patrol.  Fifteen pilots patrol in pairs from dawn to dusk.  PM  One Albacore despatched on shipping search: nothing sighted.  Owing to bad weather the aircraft landed in the sea.  Pilot Lt Head is saved but two others, S/L Rivers and L/A Tuttle are lost.

LUQA  No operations.

TA QALI  Orderly room established in St Edward’s College with accounts and Guard Room.  No operations: runway only is serviceable.  Salvage work proceeding.

CENTRAL INFANTRY BRIGADE  Convoy arrives from Mid East bringing reinforcements:  11th  Lancs Fusiliers one Officer; 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt, five Officers; 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry eight Officers, 92 Other Ranks.

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Convoy brings Officer reinforcements for Brigade as follows:  4 Buffs eight; 2nd Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers ten; 8th Bn Manchester Regt five.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT 1000 hrs  Gas masks worn for one hour.  1400 hrs  All Companies did weekly cross country run.  Heavy cloud during the day.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  Seven Officers joint the Battalion from the convoy.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  0400 hrs  Duty Officer warned that ‘A’ Company was arriving by convoy early in the morning.  By 1200 hrs two Officers and 40 Other Ranks had joined the Battalion in camp.  The remainder of the Company were on board Breconshire which had stopped ten miles out to sea owing to engine trouble.  The seven Other Ranks killed in the air raid on 21st March were buried in the Imtarfa Hospital Cemetery.

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  Seven Officers arrived in Malta and were taken on strength.

225TH LIGHT ACK ACK BATTERY, ROYAL ARTILLERY  One gun and personnel are transferred to Zonkor Point to protect shipping.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 23.

 

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

 

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

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

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

HMS Kingston

FOUR HOUR BATTLE TO DEFEND MALTA CONVOY

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 MARCH TO DAWN 23 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; 100% low cloud.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1235 hrs  Raiders passed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1940 hrs  All clear.

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

Night  No air raids: weather deteriorating.

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

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 22 MARCH 1942

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

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

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

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

NORTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  1930 hrs  Storm conditions NORAH and KATE.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 30.

 

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21 March 1942: 300,000kg of Bombs on Malta’s “Day in Hell”

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  • 300 tons of bombs on Ta Qali in 48 hours
  • 146 high explosive bombs target Mosta
  • 81 killed and many more wounded
  • Bombs on shelter in Mosta cause mass casualties
  • 5 enemy aircraft destroyed, 5 damaged
  • 9 Spitfires land safely ex Gibraltar

 

Ta Qali: 1600 bombs in 48 hrs

Ta Qali: 1600 bombs in 48 hrs

MASS BOMBING RAIDS ON TA QALI AND MOSTA

Raids on Ta Qali continued today with increased intensity.  In massive and widespread attacks this afternoon, communities surrounding the air base also suffered badly, as the enemy extended their targets to Mosta and surrounding communities of Rabat, Imtarfa and Balzan.  Casualties known so far are 20 military and 61 civilians killed and over 100 wounded.  22 civilians were killed in Rabat; 30 were killed and 45 wounded in Mosta, where a large number of bombs fell.

Today’s raids bring the total number of bombs dropped on Ta Qali in the last 48 hours to 1600.  Since Thursday night over 300 tons of bombs have left huge craters across the airfield, now said to resemble the surface of the moon.

Mosta (NWMA Malta)

Mosta (NWMA Malta)

A CHILD REMEMBERS

In Mosta, little Doris Vella was in the air-raid shelter with her mother.  Her father had just left them, on urgent business, and her two older brothers had just escaped their mother’s grasp, to go up and watch the German bombers:

“The next instant a deafening explosion plunged the whole place into darkness and sent us reeling against the walls of the cubicle.  In the ensuing panic I began to grope around and felt the heads of the three young ones.  The straw mattresses on the bunks caught fire and burst into flames…As our eyes got accustomed to the dim light we saw dead bodies piled on top of each other.  A number of RAF men appeared at the shelter entrance and picking their way through the pile of corpses grabbed us and took us outside.  We walked in a state of shock towards our house and saw carts carrying bodies.  We recognized that of Milda’s mother, a refugee from Vittoriosa, horribly mutilated.  The walls of Gafa Street were black with the blast of the explosion.  We learned later that three [bombs] had landed and exploded simultaneously at the entrance and the emergency exit of the shelter.”   Doris lost her father and two brothers in the raid.  (1)

SPITFIRE PILOT’S DAY IN HELL

One 1000kg bomb landed in front of the Point de Vue Hotel in Rabat, being used as a billet for RAF fighter pilots.  Buck McNair had just arrived back at the hotel when the bomb exploded:

“When I came to, I didn’t know where I was. I didn’t feel I was dead, but I didn’t feel whole. My eyes were open, but my jaws and chest didn’t seem to be there…I felt for my tin hat, then I started to be able to see just as if the sun was coming up after a great darkness. I tested myself. I felt carefully with my fingers and found that I had a face and a chest, so I felt better…

As I became more conscious, I found I was upstairs; but I knew I shouldn’t be upstairs. I should be downstairs. Then I realized I had been blown upstairs either through a door or through an opening at the turn of the staircase. I’d been thrown up 20 or 30 feet …

I went out onto the roof and back down the main staircase which was barely hanging in place. I saw the bodies lying at the foot of it. They were in a heap. There was no blood. The raid was still on – the All Clear hadn’t sounded. But everything seemed very quiet. Heavy dust covered the bodies. I looked at them – studied them. One was headless, the head had been cut cleanly away from the top of the shoulders. I didn’t see the head, but I could recognize the man by his very broad shoulders …

I heard a moan, so I put my hand gently on the bodies to feel which of them was alive. One of them I noticed had a hole, more than a foot wide, right through the abdomen. Another’s head was split wide open into two halves, from back to front, by a piece of shrapnel. The face had expanded to twice its size. How the man managed still to be alive I didn’t know. I thought of shooting him with my revolver. As I felt for it, I heard Bud Connell’s voice behind me. ‘Look at this mess!’

I put my hand against the wall, but it slithered down it. It had seemed dry with all the dust, but when I took my hand away I found it was covered with blood with bits of meat stuck to it – like at the butcher’s when they’re chopping up meat and cleaning up a joint. I turned to Bud. ‘For God’s sake,’ I said, ‘don’t come in here.’ Then I noticed that my battledress and trousers were torn and ripped …

Ronnie West appeared. It seemed natural to see him. He had been in the building with us, but he didn’t say anything about me being there. He didn’t seem to want to talk …Now an ambulance and a doctor arrived. The doc asked me to help him with the bodies. I said ‘Get someone else, I’ve seen enough.’…The realization of what had happened began to dawn very slowly … My left arm had gone out of joint when I was blown upstairs by the bomb, but I had shoved it back in place … (2)

SPITFIRES LAND THROUGH THE FIRE

In the midst of the onslaught, a delivery flight of nine Spitfires managed to land safely, having flown off HMS Eagle ex Gibraltar.  The aircraft were protected as they approached by Malta’s fighter squadrons.  An expected delivery of seven more Spitfires failed to arrive.  They were unable to take off from Eagle as a Blenheim aircraft due to escort them to Malta did not make rendezvous with the carrier.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 MARCH TO DAWN 22 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind south west; 80% cloud.

0900 hrs  Seven Messerschmitts drop twelve 50kg high explosive (HE) bombs on Ta Qali, near the Rock Shelter and by underground hangers: one bowser is burned out.

1000 hrs  Nearly 100 bombers, including several Heinkel HE 111, and about 20 fighters attack Ta Qali, in a repeat of last night’s raid, except that this time enemy aircraft approach in groups at greater height, not in ‘line ahead’.

Hundreds of HE bombs, mainly 250kg and 500kg, are dropped on and around the airfield, causing 27 craters and damaging the Pottery, control van and other vehicles.  Many fires are started.  Bombs which fell wide of the mark kill five military Other Ranks and wound another five, at Imtarfa.  Two Other Ranks from a working party are wounded. Two Beaufighters, two Hurricanes and one Spitfire are damaged.  One soldier and one civilian are killed; four soldiers, one pilot and two civilians are injured.  All work is called to a halt, due to the number of delayed-action bombs on aerodrome.  Ack Ack destroy one JU 88 and damaged two more.

1014 hrs  Two JU 88 bombers drop one 1800kg bomb each on Manoel Island and Bighi Hospital.

1107 hrs   Eight ME 110s with 25 ME 109s patrol the Island, then drop eight 250kg and twenty-seven 50kg HE bombs on Ta Qali and Rabat.  Seven Hurricanes from Hal Far attack the ME 110s, claiming four destroyed.  Pilots S/Ldr Mortimer-Rose, P/O Ormrod, P/O Beckett, P/O Allardice, P/O Wigley, Sgt Rose, P/O Milburn.  One aircraft returns early due to engine trouble.  Light Ack Ack gunners destroy one ME 109.  Malta’s fighters are airborne, but occupied in escorting nine Spitfires arriving from Gibraltar.

1135 hrs  Three JU 88s drop bombs on the Safi strip.

1436 hrs  Between 60 and 70 bombers approach the Island from different directions with a relatively small fighter escort. Planes come in irregularly, in groups of two and three, at heights ranging from 10,000 to 16,000 feet.  Consecutive aircraft do not follow each other into a steep dive.  Hundreds of HE bombs are dropped from varying heights; mainly 250kg and 500kg but also several 1000kg, and some rocket bombs.  The main target is Ta Qali, where main damage is to assembly areas and approaches, petrol installations and a reservoir.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage: three JU 88s are destroyed and three damaged.

1545 hrs  JU 88s and Messerschmitts carrying bombs target outlying districts, causing casualties and damage in Rabat and Imtarfa, Mosta, Balzan and San Anton. 

Two JU 88s attack Tigne and Manoel, dropping one 1800kg HE bomb each and demolishing buildings at Tigne Barracks.

1658 hrs   One JU 88 carries out reconnaissance at 20000 feet.

1944 hrs  Two enemy aircraft drop bombs in the sea and on land near Dingli. Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2215 hrs  All clear.

Military casualties  Flight Lieutenant Cecil Baker, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve VR), 126 Squadron; Flying Officer John Booth, Royal Air Force (VR), 249 Squadron; Flying Officer James Guerin, Royal Australian Air Force; Pilot Officer William Hallett, Royal Air Force (VR), 126 Squadron; Pilot Officer Edward Streets, Royal Air Force (VR), 126 Squadron; Flight Lieutenant Arthur Waterfield Royal Air Force (VR).

Private Stephen Gardiner; Private James Garnick; Private Charles Levey; Private James Joseph Murray, Private Robert Sadler; Private John Wake; Private John William Dewhurst (died 22nd March); all 1st Battalion, Durham Light Infantry.  Lance-Corporal Peter Thompson, Royal Army Service Corps, attached Field Ambulance Royal Army Medical Corps; Sergeant James Ure, Royal Army Service Corps, attached Royal Army Medical Corps; Private Raymond Siviour, 4th Battalion, The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment); Lance-Corporal Pacifico Falzon, Royal Engineers, Malta Territorial Force; Lance-Corporal Clarence (Terence) Gallagher; Corporal Douglas Baldwin; Lance-Corporal William Brown; Fusilier Harold Vernon; all 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Anthony Pace, age 24.  Balzan  Sister Paola Agius, age 73; Joseph Muscat, age 32.  Floriana  Francis Azzopardi, age 16; Publio Mercieca, age 16.  Mdina  Vincent Mizzi, age 13.  Mosta  Doris Borg, age 6; Teresa Cuschieri, age 70; Gio Maria Cuschieri, age 37; Anthony Degiorgio, age 79; Carmela Degiorgio, age 77; Maria Degiorgio, age 34; Georgina Dougall, age 42; John Fabri, age 9; Carmelo Fenech, age 11; Joseph Fenech, age 11; Giovanni Galea, age 66; Victor Galea, age 39; Kalanc Gatt, age 42; Francis Gatt, age 13; Giuseppe Gatt, age 9; Maria Gauci, age 8; Censu Gauci, age 5; Mary Grech, age 54; Alfred Montanaro, age 63; Mary Montanaro, age 60; John Montanaro, age 18; Olga St John, age 26; Zareno St John, age 3 mths; Pina Tabone, age 22; Santu Tonna, age 32; Bartholomew Vella, age 41; Carmelo Vella, age 12; Giuseppe Vella, age 9; Vincent Zammit, age 39; Ganna Zarb, age 48; unidentified female; unidentified male.  Msida  Salvu Vella, age 45.  Rabat  Carmel Abela, age 63; Louis Adami, age 29; Mary Adami, age 6; Albert Adami, age 2; Catherine Azzopardi, age 80; Rev. Robert Calleja, age 58; Lewis Caruana, age 2 mths; Domenic Ceci, age 84; Angelina Ellul, age 73; Spiru Galea, age 63; Teresa Galea, age 42; Peter Giordimaina, age 65; Alb. Laferla, age 45; Dolor Mangani, age 20; Felicia Mifsud, age 26; Gisuarda Mifsud, age 10 mths; Albert Mifsud, age 19; Harriet O’Neil, age 56; Gisuardo Portelli, age 71; Dr A Stilon LLD, age 64; Margherita Vassallo, age 28; unidentified female.  St Paul’s Bay  Rita Vella, age 6.  Zejtun  Carmelo Zahra, age 15.

OPERATIONS REPORTS: 21 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Raid no 1843 Damage to Ricasoli Rifle Range.  Surgeon Rear Admiral’s Residence at Royal Naval Hospital demolished.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Nine Spitfires, two Blenheims from Gibraltar; one Sunderland from Aboukir.  Departures  Four Beaufighters, two Hudsons to 108 MU; one Wellington to Shalufa; one Hudson to Gibraltar; one Sunderland to Aboukir.

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

LUQA  0807-1246 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron despatched on photo-reconnaissance of Taranto and Messina.

TA QALI  1600 hrs  Third blitz on Ta Qali [this afternoon], damaging the Officers’ Mess at Rabat and killing six officers including AFL (F/O) Waterfield, Intelligence Officer, and five pilots.  Over 1500 high explosive bombs plus incendiary bombs have been dropped on the camp in the last 24 hours.  Immediate steps are taken to arrange alternative accommodation for officers and airmen.  The entire personnel of 500 airmen have to be evacuated and housed in Rabat and St Edwards College.  There are a large number of absentees: police patrols are inaugurated and all shelters are searched.  Kitchen and ablutions are arranged and premises at Messina House are taken over.  All officers and airmen are arranged for by dusk.  All equipment is salvaged from the Orderly Room and Guard Room which are evacuated as the buildings are destroyed.  By nightfall a new Orderly Room is operational and new sick quarters are set up.  Equipment stores are installed in caves.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  0915 hrs   Battalion drill parade. AC HQ under the CO Floriana.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  During a large scale air raid on Ta Qali aerodrome some bombs fell near Imtarfa Hospital for which B Company were supplying a guard.  One scored a direct hit on a guard tent: five Other Ranks were killed outright; one died of wounds the same day and another died of wounds on 22nd.  Four more Other Ranks were wounded and admitted to hospital.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  PM Blitz on Ta Qali: Quarter Master’s store hit.  Cpl Baldwin, L/Cpl Gallagher, L/Cpl Brown, Fusilier Vernon killed.  Battalion took one German parachutist prisoner.

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT REGIMENT)  Two more heavy raids on Ta Qali aerodrome.  4 Buffs working party one Other Rank killed, four Other Ranks injured.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Observation Post at Tal Virtu has several near misses during intense raids on Ta Qali during the past 24 hours.  Bombs in this unit’s area at Hamrun, St George’s, St Julian’s, Balzan and Birkirkara.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  Another very heavy raid on Ta Qali aerodrome and some of the billets and posts were damaged.  Battalion suffers five casualties: one injured and four suffering from shock.  A Spitfire, a petrol pump and an ammunition van are set on fire.  Lt Cummins and his Platoon Sergeant Jones fought the fires and managed to put them out.  Air Officer Commanding visited the scene and thanked the personnel for their good show.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 15.

(1) From The People’s War, Malta 1940-43, Laurence Mizzi, Progress Press 2002

(2) Diary of Robert Wendell ‘Buck’ McNair from Canadian Aces (Miles Constable)

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Posted by on March 21, 2017 in 1942, March 1942

 

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

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Ta Qali (NWMA Malta)

 

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

MASS FORMATIONS OF ENEMY RAIDERS 

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

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 MARCH TO DAWN 21 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind south west; clear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1311 hrs  All clear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2333 hrs  All clear.

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

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

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

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 20 MARCH 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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19 March 1942: 345 High Explosive Bombs on Malta in 24 Hours

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LUFTWAFFE RECORD OF ATTACKS ON MALTA 19 MARCH 1942

  • 1 JU 88**               4 x 250kg (Ta Qali Aerodrome)
  • 4 ME 109**            4 x 250kg (Grand Harbour)
  • 5 JU 88**             20 x 250kg; 30 x 50kg (Grand Harbour)
  • 6 JU 88**             24 x 500kg (Marsaxlokk)
  • 10 JU 88**             8 x 500kg; 15 x 250kg; 36 x 50kg (Ta Qali Aerodrome)
  • 3 JU 88**             12 x 250kg; 24 x 50kg (Luqa and Safi strip)
  • 6 JU 88**             20 x 500kg (West of Luqa)
  • 13 JU 88*            44 x 250kg; 100 x 50kg (Positions on South Malta)

*night **daylight

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 MARCH TO DAWN 20 MARCH 1942

Weather  Wind westerly.  No cloud.

0710 hrs  Two ME 109s approach the Island.  One dives on a submarine in Grand Harbour, then flies over Ta Qali and Luqa at 5000 feet.  Light Ack Ack engage.

0725 hrs  Three gun positions of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA) engage one ME 109: no claims.

0740 hrs  All clear.

0957-1027 hrs  One JU 88 drops bombs on St Paul’s Bay and Wardia Ridge.  Light Ack Ack engage: no claims.

1053-1122 hrs  One JU 88 and two ME 109s carry out reconnaissance.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: no claims.

1128-1143 hrs  Two ME 109s patrol round the Island without crossing the coast.

1405 hrs   Three JU 88s bomb Sliema, Gzira and St Julians. 

One Beaufort heading into Malta from Gibraltar crash-lands at Hal Far, its rear gunner wounded in combat with a ME 110.  The crew proceeds to Luqa.

1443 hrs  Six JU 88s drop twenty-four 500kg high explosive (HE) bombs on Hal Far and Benghaisa gun position.  One JU 88 is damaged by Light Ack Ack.  One man is injured at a Light Ack Ack position.  Two bombs hit headquarters of B Company, 11th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers, demolishing half of the buildings, including officers’ quarters.  2/Lt Wilsher and seven Other Ranks are admitted to hospital.

1500 hrs  One gun position of 225 LAA engages one JU 88: no claims.  One gun position is damaged by bombing and ammunition is destroyed.  Gunner McDermott is injured by bomb splinters and removed to No 45 General Hospital.

1540 hrs  All clear.

1617 hrs   One JU 88 carries out reconnaissance, followed by six JU 88s which drop 23 high explosive bombs on Ta Qali.

1630 hrs  Three JU 88s drop 36 HE bombs on Safi strip and Luqa.

1700 hrs  Six JU 88s drop twenty 500kg HE bombs on Luqa, east of Qrendi and Nigret.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  One Wellington at Luqa is burned out, one damaged; one Maryland is slightly damaged.

1705 hrs  36 HE bombs land on Ta Qali camp, damaging two buildings.  One Beaufighter under repair is partly burned out; another Beaufighter, a fighter Blenheim and two Hurricanes are slightly damaged.

1718 hrs  A stick of bombs drops on the area of San Kristu church.

1800 hrs  Five JU 88s drop HE bombs through Mqabba village to within 300 yards of Zurrieq village, straddling headquarters of D Company, 4th Bn Hampshire Regt. 

1820 hrs  One bomb falls 100 yards from headquarters of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt; another near Tal Hniena Chapel.

2120-0016 hrs  Five aircraft approach the Island and drop bombs in the sea, and on land across Qrendi, Kalafrana and Luqa.  Incendiary bombs are dropped on the Benghaisa area.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0151-0306 hrs  Seven aircraft approach the Island and drop bombs in the sea and on land at Tal Qroqq and Ta Giorni.  Night fighters and Heavy Ack Ack engage.  One JU 88 is damaged by fighters.

Military casualties  Gunner Joseph Moloney, 32nd Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; 2nd Lieutenant Richard Morgan, 74th Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Gzira  Paul Vassallo, age 50. Lija  Paul Azzopardi, age 39. Sliema  Mikiel Borg, age 64.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 19 MARCH 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Unbeaten returned from patrol off Spartivento having sunk a U boat and probably hit a large merchant vessel.  Embarked torpedoes and left again non patrol.  Upright sailed for Gibraltar and UK to refit.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Blenheims, seven Beauforts from Gibraltar.

LUQA  1536-1940 hrs  One Maryland 69 Squadron SF5 patrol

TA QALI  No scrambles.  No night operations.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT CO and Company Commanders visited loading demonstrations at 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry.  1930-2200 hrs  Night firing by platoons C Company on Pembroke Ranges.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY Vehicle loading demonstration to be inspected by all Brigades.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Exercise attack on Victoria Lines by D and C Companies.  A and B defended.  Fusilier Thompson was hit by bomb shrapnel in Sliema and killed.

KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT  1st Bn reports a stick of bombs in the sea off Post MB5.

8TH BN THE  KINGS OWN ROYAL REGIMENT  Demonstration Platoon and Company truck loading.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS 1700 hrs  Lecture at Marsa for all officers on “Correct Orders to Forward Artillery in Support of Infantry Attack.”

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

 

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Posted by on March 19, 2017 in 1942, March 1942, Uncategorized

 

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