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25 May 1942: Enemy Hits Back Hard After Convoy Attacks

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Savoia-Marchetti SM 84

REPRISALS FOR ATTACKS ON AXIS BASES AND SHIPPING

Yesterday’s attacks on enemy shipping have prompted immediate reprisals from the enemy today.  All three airfields were targeted in a raid at dusk this evening in one of the heaviest attacks in recent days.  The enemy action seemed designed to knock out Wellington and Albacore aircraft which have restarted successful offensive operations again against Sicilian aerodromes and enemy shipping.

PROSPECT OF INVASION STILL LOOMS

“The Photographic Reconnaisance Unit had detailed the construction of airstrips in Italy for gliders. Field Marshall Kesselring seemed to have convinced Hitler, Mussolini and General Rommel that Operation Herkules [the invasion of Malta] should go ahead in July. General Student, who commanded the bloody aerial assault on Crete, was developing similar plans for Malta.

On the evening of May 25 a large German air raid on Gasr El Arid, in Libya, intending to knock out as many of the RAF planes in North Africa as possible, started Rommel’s “Operation Theseus”, his last great advance that died at El Alamein. He had decided that the best way to win the Mediterranean was to conquer North Africa first, then take on Malta. His strategy was generally flawed, as aircraft from Malta could intercept his supplies. Especially with the new supplies of Spitfires. As it turned out, Rommel was a much better tactician than a strategician. Kesselring was correct, Operation Herkules was necessary to knock out Malta prior to defeating the Allies in North Africa. 

The rest of May would turn out to be the harshest month yet.” (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 MAY TO DAWN 26 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; slight.

0530-0610 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali airborne on patrol: no interceptions.

0830-0945 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept a reported plot of enemy aircraft: no engagement.

0855-0930 hrs  Four Spitfires airborne from Ta Qali and see two ME 109s but do not intercept.

1420-1550 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept a 60 strong enemy formation, including three Italian bombers, forty-two ME 109s and Italian fighters attack Luqa.

1457 hrs  16 Spitfires 126 and 601 Squadrons Luqa are scrambled too late to contact the bomber force; they engage the fighter escort.  F/Sgt Goldsmith damages one Cant 1007 and one Re 2001.  P/O Caldwell fails to return.  The Spitfires of 249 Squadron also engage the enemy.  F/O West destroys one Italian Re 2001.  P/O McNair probably destroys one ME 109.  S/Ldr New damages one Cant 1007.  F/O Lee damages one Cant 1007 but is then himself hit in the wing and engine.  Sgt Brennan damages one Re 2001.  Sgt De Nancreds damages one ME 109.

1503 hrs  Three Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM 84 aircraft drop eighteen 100kg bombs on the Luqa area from a high level.

1938 hrs  Waves of enemy bombers with fighter escort approach the Island.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali and four Spitfires 601 Squadron Luqa are scrambled to intercept the enemy aircraft: no combat is reported.

1945 hrs  Nine JU 88s and six ME 109 fighter bombers with an escort of 20 plus fighters attack all three aerodromes, plus Kalafrana and Corradino.  Raiders are engaged by Heavy Ack Ack fire.  Delimara gun position is hit, killing seven members of 4 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment Royal Artillery.

At Luqa bombs fall near the main stores and damage the aerodrome including a large crater on the main runway.  Delayed action bombs are dropped in the dispersal area and near the runway.  Two Wellingtons are damaged.

2057 hrs  Three JU 88s attack, dropping nine high explosive bombs on the Safi strip and Mqabba areas.

2145 hrs  Four Spitfires 126 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne from Luqa to intercept six JU 88s: no engagement.  They land at Ta Qali.

Night  Eleven enemy raiders come in and drop bombs at various places on the Island including areas around Valletta.  In the early hours of the morning, high explosive bombs on Hamrun cause damage to civilian properties, killing thirteen and injuring six.  The enemy engaged by barrage gunfire.

2300 hrs  One Beaufighter airborne from Luqa at 2035 hrs lands at Ta Qali.  Bombs are dropped on Ta Qali airfield, on top of the caves between the western dispersal hut and Imtarfa.

0106-0213 hrs  Nine raiders drop bombs on Luqa.  An unserviceable Wellington is burned out and a number of craters made in the dispersal area.

0139 hrs  One aircraft drops two bombs on Misrah Blandun and two bombs on the Safi strip.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Walter Caldwell, Royal New Zealand Air Force, 601 Squadron; Lance Bombardier Alfred Broadhurst, 4 Heavy Ack Ack (HAA) Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner John Fitzsimons, 5 Battery, 4 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner William Kelly, 4 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Bombardier Walter Longville, 4 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Sergeant John McCarthy, 4 Coast Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner George O’Brien, 4 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery; Gunner Harold Ward, 4 HAA Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Hamrun  Carmel Borg, age 35; Stella Borg, age 34; Carmel Borg, age 3; William Brimmer, age 38; Carmela Brimma, age 62; Joseph Darmanin, age 68; Concetta Decelis, age 64; Adelaide Fabri, age 32; Antonia Falzon, age 60; Carmela Felice, age 66; Carmela Pace, age 5; Paul Rizzo, age 70; Doris Rizzo, age 18.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 25 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Harbour craft swept Grand Harbour entrance and destroyed one mine.  About 20 tons of fuel oil was extracted from Breconshire in drums and landed by small craft.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Gambut.  Departures  Two Wellingtons, Five Beauforts, two Blenheims to LG 222; one Hudson to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort crashed on take-off: crew uninjured.  One Blenheim damaged while taxiing: crew uninjured.  One Spitfire failed to return from operations: pilot missing.

LUQA  0815-1035 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Augusta Harbour.  2054-2345 hrs  Two Wellingtons 104 Squadron despatched to bomb a train ferry at Messina.  Bombs straddled the target and some fell in the south and south east of the harbour.

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.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Working parties on Luqa aerodrome continue.  Summer dress is adopted for all purposes.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 3; dealt with 4 (3 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg).

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.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  CSM May was buried in the Military Cemetery, Imtarfa.

(1)  Canadian Air Aces and Heroes, WWI, WWII and Korea

 

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

 

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9 May 1942: 60 Spitfires Reach Malta

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OPERATION BOWERY A SUCCESS

Spitfires 601 Squadron

Commanders in Malta are in celebratory mood tonight after the second major attempt to supply the Island with a Spitfire force proved a resounding success.  Under ‘Operation Bowery’ 60 new fighters reached the Island today out of a total of 64 which took off from the aircraft carriers USS Wasp and HMS Eagle.  From the early hours of this morning Malta’s three airfields of Hal Far, Luqa and Ta Qali stood ready for the new arrivals.  The Island’s artillery loaded their guns, ready to fight off enemy attacks intent on destroying the Spitfires. 

The first arrivals came into view just before 10 am and ground crews went into action.  Each aircraft was allocated a number which matched them to a specific ground crew, before being taken to a protective pen to refuel and re-arm.  Within minutes, every new Spitfire was ready for a fresh pilot to take off to fight off enemy attacks on the next arrivals.  The new measures ensured there was no repeat of the heavy losses following the previous delivery attempt in April.

  • RAF fighter sorties: 125 by Spitfires, 9 by Hurricanes
  • RAF casualties: 2 Spitfires destroyed
  • Enemy bomber sorties: 24 JU 88s, 17 JU 87s, 10 Cant 1007s, 5 BR 20
  • Enemy casualties: destroyed 4 ME 109s, 3 Cant 1007s; probably destroyed 2 ME 109s, 3 JU 87s, 1 Macchi, 1 BR 20; damaged 7 ME 109s, 3 JU 88s, 2 JU 87s, 2 Macchi 202

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 MAY TO DAWN 10 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud – haze.

0400 hrs  Malta airfields – reveille at Ta Qali, Luqa and Hal Far.  Working parties are picked and final arrangements confirmed for the arrival of Spitfires.  Royal Artillery raise ammunition restriction to cover arrival of Spitfires.

Ready to take off from Wasp

0500 hrs  USS Wasp and HMS Eagle, Western Mediterranean: ‘Operation Bowery’ – Spitfires ready to take off for Malta at first light.

0722 hrs  One JU 88 and six ME 109s carry out reconnaissance over Malta.

0800 hrs  Zero hour – Malta’s airfields at state of readiness.

0915 hrs  Five Italian bombers approach the Island with a mass formation of 53 ME 109 fighters.  A number of ME 109s are engaged by two Ack Ack light machine guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery (LAA): hits claimed.

0924 hrs  Five Cant 1007s drop bombs on the Marsa and Floriana areas.  Bombs hit Haywharf, causing a fire in the HQ of No 1 Section 24 Fortress Company Royal Engineers and destroying searchlight equipment.  In Marsa Private Shepherd B Coy 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt is injured in the leg by a cannon shell.

0940 hrs  Nine Hurricanes are airborne, six from Luqa and three from Hal Far, as escort for the arrival of Spitfires from the western Mediterranean.  Six Spitfires 242 Squadron are also scrambled from Ta Qali to give high cover.  242 Squadron are attacked by four ME 109s over Luqa.  F/Lt Sanders destroys one ME 109 and F/O Holland and P/O Mitchell between them destroy another.  One Spitfire ditches in the sea: F/Lt Buckstone is missing.

1000 hrs  Ta Qali logs the first 22 new Spitfires and their pilots to arrive over the next hour.  Each aircraft is numbered ready to be met by an allocated ground crew and taken to a protective pen to refuel, re-arm and repair as necessary, ready for a fresh pilot to take off within 20 minutes as cover for the next arrivals.

1015-1020 hrs  Ack Ack Light Machine Guns of 225 LAA  engage ME 109s at 3-600 feet: hits claimed.

1055 hrs  Ta Qali: 11 of the new Spitfires take to the air with experienced pilots of 249 Squadron and engage ME 109s.  P/O Nash destroys one and probably destroys another; F/Lt Buchanan probably destroys one.  P/O Milburn crashes near Safi and is killed.

1100 hrs  11 more new Spitfires arrive at Hal Far plus another flight at Luqa, all to be met, serviced and airborne within minutes.  Ack Ack guns defend them from attack by numerous ME 109s swarming over the airfield at 150-500 feet: hits claimed.

1145 hrs  Guns of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt at Wolseley Camp engage ME 109s heading in over Fort Ta Silch to attack Hal Far: no claims.

1200 hrs  Four Spitfires on patrol make visual contact with delivery aircraft heading in towards Malta: one new Spitfire is observed falling into the sea.  A ME 109 is spotted nearby and chased away.

1205 hrs  The last batch of new Spitfires lands.  60 have arrived out of a total of 64.

1258 hrs  Raiders passed.

1312 hrs  News of the delivery of Spitfires has reached the Luftwaffe in Sicily.  A formation of 14 JU 88s and 20 ME 109s is observed heading towards Malta.

1315 hrs  Eleven Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  Two JU 88s claimed as damaged.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are also airborne:  P/O Nash damages one ME 109.  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron are also up: Sgt Tweedale crashes at Luqa and is killed.

1330 hrs  Six JU 88s drop 24 high explosive bombs on Ta Qali, damaging two motor transport vehicles.  A delayed action bomb explodes near the caves, injuring A/C Oliver.  Three airmen slightly are injured in the Maintenance Quarry, Attard-Rabat Road.

1355 hrs  Nine JU 88s attack on Hal Far and Safi.  One bomb damages the runway and the aerodrome is unserviceable for an hour.  About six delayed action bombs are also scattered over the area.  One soldier is seriously injured and four others slightly injured.  Bombs are dropped on Wied Znuber: three Other Ranks 4th Bn Hampshire Reg are injured by bomb splinters.

1356-1415 hrs  Two JU 88s at 2-3000 feet engaged by guns of 225 LAA Bty.

1405 hrs  Four Spitfires from Hal Far and Luqa land at Ta Qali.  P/O Noble is shot up over Ta Qali.

1423 hrs  Raiders passed.

1531 hrs  One JU 88 carries out reconnaissance.

1550 hrs  12 Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept incoming ME 109 fighters.  F/O Holland, P/O Mitchell and F/Sgt Hurst each damage one ME 109.  One Spitfire is damaged.

1610 hrs  Messerschmitt 109s carry out a fighter sweep.

1615 hrs  14 JU87s with a 40-strong fighter escort dive-bomb the Safi and Siggiewi dispersal areas.  One Wellington already damaged is burned out. Three JU 87s break away to attack the San Pietru gun position, killing two Other Ranks and wounding five more, and drop bombs between Hompesch and St Clements Church.

1620 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron attack JU 87s over Grand Harbour.  F/Lt Lawrence damages one ME 109. Sgt Broad claims one JU 87 probably destroyed; he also damages one JU 87.  F/Lt Lawrence and P/O Wigley each claim  one JU 87 probably destroyed.

1630 hrs  One JU 87 is engaged by one gun of 225 LAA Bty: hits claimed.

1640 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron, Ta Qali, returning from a patrol over Sicily attack JU 87s who have been bombing Luqa and Grand Harbour.  P/O Nash probably destroys one.

1700 hrs  Raiders passed.

1727 hrs  11 Spitfires (4 of 601 Squadron and 7 of 126 Squadron) are scrambled from Luqa to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  Nine aircraft engage in combat; two no contact.  Claims three probable Italian BR 20s destroyed; one Macchi 202 destroyed, two Macchi 202 damaged.

1744 hrs  Five Cant 1007s and numerous fighters attack, dropping fifty 100kg bombs on Attard camp and on Ta Qali airfield.

1805 hrs  Nine Spitfires 601 Squadron are scrambled from Luqa to intercept incoming enemy aircraft.  Four have combat; five make no contact.  Claims: one ME 109 and one JU 88 damaged.

1835 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron and three Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne from Ta Qali but did not manage to intercept five Cant 1007s and seven JU 88s which go on to attack the airfield.  F/Lt Douglas destroys one ME 109; F/O Slade damages another.  F/L Douglas goes into a bomb crater on landing and damages his aircraft.

1846-1934 hrs  Seven JU 88s drop 40 high explosive bombs on Ta Qali causing craters on the aerodrome.  Three Spitfires are damaged.

0040 hrs; 0230 hrs  Two air raid alerts: a total of 12 aircraft drop bombs in the Tal Handaq area, on Tigne parade ground and in the sea.  An E boat and some aircraft appear to be minelaying in the sea north of Grand Harbour.  Some damage is caused to gas and water pipes.  One JU 88 is probably destroyed by Ack Ack.

0050-0212 hrs; 0250-0520 hrs Two Beaufighters are airborne from Luqa on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft.  One BR 20 is claimed as probably destroyed.

0414-0421 hrs  Three German schnellboote lay a triangular minefield off Sliema point to cover one possible approach of HMS Welshman which has been reported by the Luftwaffe heading for Malta.

0438 hrs  Schnellboot S-31 collides with a loose mine and sinks.  13 men are rescued including her Commanding Officer and two Italian officers; 13 are lost.

Military casualties  Sergeant Alwyn Bentley, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (VR); Flight Lieutenant John Buckstone, Royal Air Force VR, 603 Squadron; Aircraftsman I John Clarke, Royal Air Force VR; Pilot Officer Harold Milburn, Royal Air Force VR, 245 Squadron.  Corporal Frederick Few, Royal Air Force, Squadron Leader John Gorringe-Smith, Royal Air Force, Flight Sergeant Thomas Grosvenor, Royal Air Force VR, Flying Officer John Leslie, Royal Air Force VR, Flying Officer William White, Royal Canadian Air Force; all 221 Squadron.  Sergeant John Jacklin, Flight Lieutenant Raymond Sly, Pilot Officer Gordon Tweedale, all Royal Australian Air Force.  Private Leonard Harvey, Private Lindon Lever, Corporal Thomas Maloney, Private Raymond Small, all 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment.  Gunner Seraphim Cauchi, 30 Bty, 3 LAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Joseph Falzon, 11th AA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Peter Portelli, 11 HAA Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Carmela Muscat, age 23.  Balzan  Sister Alexandra Borda, age 31.  Floriana  Mary Polidano, age 17.  Gzira  Joseph Mifsud, age 36.  Qormi  Teresa Sammut, age 20.  Zejtun  Gaetan Mifsud, age 54.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 9 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Further sweep of Grand Harbour entrance channel with all available minesweeping craft.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Lodestar from Gambut.  Departures  One Lodestar to Heliopolis, three Hudsons to Gibraltar, one Beaufort, one Wellington to 108 MU.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down in combat; pilot killed.  One Spitfire shot down in the sea off Malta; pilot missing, believed killed.  One Hurricane straffed by ME 109s while landing; pilot uninjured.

LUQA  0847-1210 hrs  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance and visual reconnaissance of Messina, Palermo and Trapani harbours and south Italian aerodromes.  1525-1730 hrs  Spitfire on search to locate enemy shipping Malta to Messina.  2123 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight on special search: failed to return.  S/L Gorringe-Smith, P/O Leslie, P/O White, Sgt Bently, Sgt Grosvener, Sgt Jacklin, C/L Few missing.

TA QALI  3 Officers, 14 Airmen from HQ Mediterranean, 19 from Gzira, attached for temporary duties.  1535-1640 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron patrol over Sicily.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Special party four Officers and 100 Other Ranks required for work on Luqa on stand by to fill in bomb craters from 0500-1000 hrs daily.  Working party of 12 men to fill belts for RAF.  9 and 30 cwt lorries required for work at Luqa.  Large deliveries of Spitfires expected.  Italians dropped bombs from a great height in Bn area.  Cpl Maloney, Pte Lever, Pte Harvey, Pte Small killed; Pte Schooley very badly injured, not expected to live.  Capt Roddy slightly injured.  Very unfortunate as men were caught absolutely unawares.  Ptes Harvey and Small were manning the Ack Ack light machine gun.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 20; dealt with 10 (1 x 1000kg,  3 x 250kg, 4 x 50kg, two Italian anti-personnel bomb containers).

1ST BN THE HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT  17 trucks, 14 officers and 261 Other Ranks building pens and filling craters on Hal Far aerodrome.

2ND BN THE ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS  Battalion assisting in maintaining and servicing of aerodromes: arrival of reinforcements of Spitfires.

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  1430 hrs  This unit takes over Luqa working party from Durham Light Infantry.  No craters required filling today.

8TH BN THE MANCHESTER REGIMENT  This unit supplied a working party of 150 men: Spitfires arrived.

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Posted by on May 9, 2017 in 1942, May 1942, Uncategorized

 

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6 May 1942: Sea Battle off Grand Harbour

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Royal Navy Motor Launch

NIGHT PATROL ATTACKED

Motor Launch ML-130 failed to return from patrol round Malta’s coast during the night and is reported lost.  Coastal watch reported seeing vigorous exchanges of fire between vessels, about six miles off Grand Harbour, which began at 0143 hrs and lasted for some twenty minutes.  Observers concluded ML-130 must have disturbed enemy E-boats engaged in mine-laying activities.

At 0307 hrs there was a loud explosion and a vessel was seen burning continuously until 0500 hrs.  The RAF rescue launch was scrambled and proceeded to the reported position to search for survivors.  Only wreckage and part of a carley float were found, leading to the suspicion that ML-130 exploded and was lost.

Intelligence reports were later picked up suggesting that the launch’s commander and nine other crew members, several of them injured, were taken prisoner by three German schnellboote (fast attack boats) off the coast of Malta.  This leaves four of the launch crew unaccounted for.

Royal Lady

GOZO HARBOUR DIVE-BOMBED: BOATS SUNK

In broad daylight this afternoon enemy fighter-bombers carried out a surprise dive-bombing raid on the harbour at Mgarr, Gozo.  One aircraft was seen to release several bombs over the Royal Lady, splitting the vessel in two.  More bombs were aimed at the trawler SS Franco; one hit the vessel, damaging the funnel.  A coffee and rest-house on the harbour was also damaged by an exploding bomb.  The loss of the Royal Lady is a severe blow to the Gozo Mail Service, which she has served since her purchase from the UK in 1938.

URGE IS MISSING

A Royal Navy Submarine which left Malta on 27 April heading for Alexandria has been reported overdue.  She was last reported on 29 April, when she attacked the Italian sailing vessel San Giusto off Ras Hilal.  It is believed the submarine was spotted by nearby German vessels with their escorting Italian aircraft, which counter-attacked.  Since then nothing has been heard of the submarine, which is believed sunk.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 6 MAY TO DAWN 7 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; haze – warm.

0533 hrs  Air raid alert: ME 109s patrol around the Island.

0614 hrs  One JU 88 accompanied by two ME 109 fighters drops several bombs on Tigne and one bomb on Valletta.

0655hrs; 0745 hrs  Air raid alert: ME 109s patrol around the Island.

0940 hrs  Five Spitfires 126 Squadron and two Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled from Ta Qali intercept a plot of JU 88s.  Fl/Lt Sanders, P/O Slade and Sgt Webster damage one JU 88 each.  P/O Booth damages one ME 109.

Four Hurricanes 229 Squadron are also scrambled from Hal Far.  F/Sgt Ray crash lands at Hal Far.  Sgt Lees is lost over the sea and reported missing.

0954 hrs  Six JU 88s, three Italian BR 20 bombers and 30 ME 109s attack the Hal Far and Safi areas, dropping bombs on the southern perimeter of the aerodrome and injuring two Naval Officers and four naval ratings, two of whom are admitted to hospital.  Two JU 88s and one ME 109 are damaged by fighters and one JU 88 is damaged by Ack Ack.

1000 hrs  Two JU 88s and one ME 109 are engaged by three guns of 225 Light Ack Ack Battery: no claims.

1022 hrs  One Spitfire is shot down in flames: the pilot bales out and is slightly injured.  The aircraft lands in the area are of 8th Bn Kings Own Royal Regiment who provide a guard for the wreckage.

1050 hrs  Raiders passed.

1050-1214 hrs  Two ME 109s circle north of the Island.

1225 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron from Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept incoming enemy aircraft.  They engage two ME 109s flying low over Ta Qali.  Flt/Sgt Hesselyn damages one ME 109.

1247 hrs  Five Cant 1007 bombers with a 13 strong fighter escort drop a large number of 100kg bombs on Ta Qali and Attard.

1306 hrs  Three BR 20 bombers drop small anti-personnel bombs between Qormi and Attard.

1329 hrs  Raiders passed.

1400 hrs  Cave No 4 at Ta Qali is reported to be on fire: the cave is full of oil and burns all day and late into the night.  The cause of the fire is unknown.

1530 hrs  Four fighter bombers bomb and machine-gun the harbour of Mgarr, Gozo.  The ferry boat Royal Lady is sunk.

1606 hrs  Air raid alert for a formation of enemy aircraft approaching the Island.

1630 hrs  Five JU 88s with an escort of ME 109 and Macchi 202 fighters attack Luqa airfield and the Safi strip.  One JU 88 is damaged by Ack Ack.

1730 hrs  All clear.

1920 hrs  Five Hurricanes Mk 2C arrive at Hal Far from the Middle East.

Night  Three air raid alerts for JU 88s bombers which attack in pairs.  Bombs are dropped on Gozo, Luqa, Safi and Siggiewi, and Ta Qali and Mosta.  One Beaufighter Malta Night Fighter Unit is on patrol to intercept enemy aircraft: no engagement.

0143 hrs  The Beaufighter observes an exchange of fire between E boats and a speed rescue service craft.

Military casualties  Able Seaman John Brown, Royal Navy, ML 130; Stoker 2c John Middlemiss, Royal Navy, ML 130; Able Seaman Albert Williams, Royal Navy, ML 130; Sergeant Robert Lees, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 229 Squadron; Private Albert Stringer, 4th Battalion, The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment).

Civilian casualties  Qormi  Saviour Cutajar, age 50.  Sliema  Edwin Azzopardi, age 21.  Zejtun  Toni Gatt, age 71.  Gozo (Victoria)  Toni Saliba, age 38.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 6 MAY 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Two Spitfires, one Hudson from Gibraltar; two Blenheims, one Beaufighter, five Hurricanes from Gambut; one Lodestar from Heliopolis.  Departures  One Wellington to 108 MU.  Aircraft casualties  One Hurricane shot down in the sea; pilot missing.  One Hurricane crash-landed; pilot uninjured.  Two Spitfires crashed after combat; pilots uninjured.  One Spitfire landed with undercarriage up; pilot uninjured.

LUQA  0700-0910 hrs  One Spitfire on photo-reconnaissance of Sicilian aerodromes.  0929-0934 hrs  One Spitfire on photo-reconnaissance of Naples, West Italian and Sicilian aerodromes has to return with cockpit trouble.  He took off again at 1100 hrs but has to land again immediately with engine trouble.  2055-0230 hrs  One Wellington on shipping search: no sightings, bombs brought back.

TA QALI  1435 hrs  NFF establishment came through. 126 Squadron attached Luqa (pilots only).

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  0830 hrs  Working party on Luqa aerodrome building sangars: two Officers and 100 Other Ranks.  RAOC working party carries on.

1st BN THE DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT  1430 hrs  One unexploded bomb at 51302184.  Two unexploded hand grenades at 49318299 (subsequently brought to Battalion HQ).

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 10; dealt with 13 (4 x 500kg, 4 x 250kg, 1 x 50kg; 4 x Italian anti-personnel bomb containers).

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  0730 hrs  Luqa working parties continued: first of bomber pens completed.

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Posted by on May 6, 2017 in 1942, May 1942

 

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1 May 1942: 110 Enemy Aircraft Destroyed by Malta Guns

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Valleta from Kingsgate (Porta Reale) 1 May 1942

GOVERNOR CONGRATULATES ROYAL ARTILLERY ON 110 ENEMY AIRCRAFT DESTROYED IN APRIL

The Palace, Malta, 1/5/42 

“Dear Beckett, My best congratulations to the [Ack Ack] Gunners for reaching their century last month.  A very fine show – of which all concerned may be proud.  What about a double century this month?  There is an extra day in it, Yours ever, W G S Dobbie

ENEMY BOMBERS TARGET AIRFIELD WORKING PARTIES

Luftwaffe bombers carried out a series of individual bombing raids overnight across the Island but mainly concentrated on Luqa aerodrome.  The enemy is evidently targeting Army working parties now operating at night on repairs and the construction of pens to shelter fighter aircraft.

A high percentage of delayed action bombs have been used in the raids.  The intention has clearly been to disrupt the construction effort, as work has to be suspended during attacks and afterwards, until all delayed-action bombs have been rendered safe.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 MAY TO DAWN 2 MAY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; 80% high cloud.

0627 hrs; 0722 hrs; 0955 hrs; 1324 hrs; 1408 hrs; 1551 hrs  Alerts are sounded for a total of 22 ME 109s on patrol; only two cross the coast.  Two Spitfires are airborne to intercept; they destroy one ME 109 and damage two others.

1615 hrs  A delayed action bomb explodes near the cook house of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regiment: no casualties.

1618 hrs  Five Cant 1007 Bs escorted by ME 109s and Macchi 202s approach the Island.  Malta’s fighters are airborne, destroying one ME 109 is destroyed by fighters.  One Spitfire is shot down in combat injuring the pilot, Flt Sgt Jack Rae, who survives.

1650 hrs  The five Cant bombers drop 40 1000kg bombs on Luqa and surrounding areas, including Giacomo and Ta Salib cross-tracks.

1728 hrs  One ME 109 is destroyed by Ack Ack light machine gun fire from 4th Bn Hampshire Regt B Company and D Company (16 Platoon).  The aircraft crashes in Kalafrana Bay.

1800 hrs  Bombs dropped on Hal Far.

1829 hrs  All clear.

Night  A continuous series of air raids by 30 single JU 88 bombers over the Island, using many delayed-action bombs.  Bombs are dropped on Luqa, Hal Far, Grand Harbour, Ta Qali, Rabat, Birzebbuga, Attard, Jebel Ghauzara, San Biagio, Mosta and in the sea.  Several houses are destroyed.  Searchlights effect six illuminations and fighters engage the enemy but no claims made.  Heavy Ack Ack also engage.

Four Hurricanes from Hal Far are scrambled three times during the night to intercept enemy raiders.  Sgt Yarra engages a JU 88 twelve miles north east of Grand Harbour and gets home a long burst of machine gun fire.  Operations report that the plot fades 37 miles north.

2004 hrs; 0030 hrs  Two unidentified aircraft (JU 88s) carry out shallow dive-bombing attacks on Luqa aerodrome, dropping several delayed-action bombs.  One Beaufighter of Malta Night Fighter Unit is burned out.

2155 hrs  One aircraft drops bombs in Wied has Saptan.

2216 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Hal Far.

0004 hrs  Bombs are dropped on the Safi strip.

0101 hrs  Bombs are dropped near Gudja Camp, Loreto Church and San Nicola Church.

0444 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Hal Far and in Wied has Saptan.

0505-0512 hrs  Bombs are dropped on Luqa and Hal Far.  An unexploded delayed-action bomb is reported at Luqa.  One Hurricane is damaged and one soldier injured at Hal Far.

Military casualties  Gunner Thomas Brodie, 32 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Lance Corporal Victor Torpiano, 3rd Battalion, King’s Own Malta Regiment.

Civilian casualties  NIL

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 1 MAY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  ML 126 carried out anti E Boat patrol.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Five Wellingtons, one Sunderland from Gibraltar; one Hudson from Gambut.  Departures  Three Wellingtons, three Hudsons, one Beaufort to 108 MU.  Aircraft casualties  One Hudson crashed on landing: crew uninjured.  One Spitfire crashed after combat: pilot injured.

HAL FAR  Four Hurricanes came to readiness for night flying.

LUQA  No operations during daylight.  2055-0335 hrs  One Wellington S/D Flight to locate and strike on enemy convoy.  Two merchant vessels and one destroyer sighted but then lost as special equipment deteriorated in effeciency.  No attack made.

TA QALI  All sleeping out passes are cancelled.  Reduced scale of rations came into force.

SOUTHERN INFANTRY BRIGADE  Exercise “Stand to” received from Command: the exercise lasted 72 hours.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Companies busy on administration and interior economy.  D Company 1 Officer  40 Other Ranks salvaging at Ospizio Ordnance Depot. Exercise “Stand to” received from Fortress HQ.  2040 hrs  Bn reported in position.  No information about the exercise received as yet.

2ND BN THE DEVONSHIRE REGIMENT  1800 hrs Bn receives “Exercise Stand To” from Brigade, the exercise to last for 72 hours.  Forward Bn HQ was manned and Companies tightened up their defence schemes etc and laid mines, except on main roads.

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

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 4; dealt with 2 (1 x 1800kg, 1 x 250kg).

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Reduction in scale of ration issues in full force: effect felt.  1800 hrs  This unit mans Observation Post Tal Minsia.  1815 hrs  Exercise “Stand to” given.  Possibility of genuine alarm.  2000 hrs  Luqa working parties continued.  Steady bombing of Luqa working parties overnight by single planes: no casualties.  0500 hrs  Exercise “Stand to” down.

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  1730 hrs  Warning order Exercise “Stand to” in force from 1800 hrs.  D Coy moved to Ta Kandia.  Luqa day and night working parties continue.  Stand to daily at 0514 hrs and 1945 hrs.

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Posted by on May 1, 2017 in 1942, May 1942

 

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27 April 1942: Italians Bombers in Mass Raid on Malta

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Cant Z 1007 bombers

Italian Cant bombers return to Malta’s skies

Troops to complete bomber pens within 2 weeks

Airmen’s feet suffer from lack of boots and shoes

Dust very trying and getting worse

SAPPER DOWNS BOMBER WITH MACHINE-GUN

The Fortress Royal Engineers Barracks in Floriana have been so badly bombed that troops have to find alternative accommodation.  24 Fortress Company is moved to Bahar ic Cahaq.  Sapper Richard Walters spent his first few days building a gun pit from local stone, mounted with twin Browning machine-guns, from which he and his mate Chopper Hallett will help defend the camp.

“at 1050 am we got the siren again.  This time we were in the gun pit with ample time to spare…We waited ten minutes before we saw the Navy’s direction shots.  They were coming in over Grand Harbour at about 20000 feet.  It seemed that there were no friendly planes airborne because the Ack Ack was extra heavy…

during the height of it Chopper said to me, ‘Look at this one coming down the valley’.  I think it was only about 100 feet high and flying at a slow speed to what we had normally seen them fly.  It was a Junkers 87, a dive bomber, and as it got closer I could see that it was going to make a good target for our gun.  I said, ‘Keep your head down Chopper, we are going to have this one.’  I got my shoulder between the shoulder rest and glued my eyes along the sights.

Closer and closer it came.  It was about 100 yards away when I opened up.  I kept my eyes glued on the plane and I could see the two lines of smoke coming from the barrels sinking into the noise of the plane as it was coming straight at us…As it screamed over our heads at about 50 feet I kept that smoke line right underneath the pilot’s cock-pit.

Chopper was shouting something but I could not hear what he was saying and at that particular time I was not interested as I was right on target and I was giving that Junkers 87 all the guns would sent up and I knew my shots were getting home because I could see little bits of metal flying off the opposite side of the plane.  By this time the plane was going away from us and as it was so low I had to stop firing as I was hitting the top of our gunpit with the shots as they left the gun barrels, so I watched the plane carry on for a further 300 yards and suddenly tip over on its right side and plunge into the sea, sending up a terrific white spray.

Chopper shouted, ‘You’ve got it!’ and he jumped with joy…I said, ‘What were you shouting at me for as that plane was going over?’  He replied, ‘The bastard was firing back, I could see the rear gunner having a go at us and his shots were hitting the stone on top of our gunpit, and the barrels of our guns were red hot; I could see the paint peeling off them.’…

I thought to myself, ‘You got one, but you were lucky to get away with it.’  At that moment the telephone rang.  It was Captain Holloway, our 2nd i/c who was in Command Post down at HQ.  He said, ‘Who was firing at that plane?’  Excitedly, I replied, ‘I was, Sir.’  He replied, ‘Bloody good show, Walters.’…Funny they called me ‘Dead-eye Dick’ after this. (1)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 APRIL TO DAWN 28 APRIL 1942

Weather  Wind southerly.  Little cloud.

0621-0730 hrs  One flying boat and six ME 109s are observed off the east coast of the Island,  evidently on search operations.

0754-0820 hrs  Three ME 109s circle to the east of the Island.

1102 hrs  A plot totalling 36 JU 88 bombers with fighter escort, followed by a further formation of 19 JU 87 Stukas plus fighters, are observed heading for Malta.  The first plot divides into three waves.

1110 hrs The first wave of 11 JU 88s separates to bomb vessels and gun positions around Grand Harbour and Marsa Creek, including Corradino, Paola, and St George’s and Tigne Barracks.  Gun positions are also attacked at Madliena, Gharghur, Naxxar and bombs hit the military camp at Attard.

1115 hrs  One stick of bombs falls between Zabbar and Della Grazia.  Ack Ack guns destroy one JU 88 which crashes near a defence post in the Rinella Sector of 1st Bn Cheshire Regt.

1120 hrs  Twelve JU 88s attack Luqa causing further damage to Works and Bricks buildings.  One omnibus is destroyed and an unserviceable Wellington is written off.  One Beaufort under repair is a probable write-off and a Maryland under repair is damaged.  Bombs are also dropped on the Safi strip.  Three defence posts of 2nd Bn Royal West Kent Regt claim hits on JU 88s.

1125 hrs  One JU 88 crossing Zonqor Ridge from the direction of Luqa is engaged by light machine gun fire by 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt.  No hits claimed.  Two JU 88s flying out over Fort Ta Silch are engaged by light machine gun fire from the fort and from Wolseley Camp: hits claimed.  One JU 88 is engaged by light machine gun fire from a defence position of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt: hits claimed.

1130 hrs  19 JU 87 Stuka dive-bombers cross the coast and head for Ta Qali, where they carry out a massed dive-bombing raid on camps and gun positions, damaging buildings and causing extensive craters.  Extreme repairs are carried out on the aerodrome and pens and the aerodrome is serviceable.

1157 hrs  Raiders passed.

1547 hrs  The air raid alarm is raised for an approaching plot of enemy aircraft.

1554 hrs  Five BR20s drop forty 100kg bombs on Luqa and the Safi strip from a high level, before receding in formation.

53 Luftwaffe bombers accompanied by 33 fighters then take up the attack.  24 JU 88s head for the Grand Harbour area: 14 attack Marsamxetto Harbour, dropping bombs on Manoel Island, Pieta and Msida and Tigne Barracks.  Tigne S/L projector and Ack Ack light machine gun damaged.

The remaining ten drop bombs on Valletta and Floriana, including Casemate Barracks and Lintorn Barracks, The Seminary, Phoenicia Hotel, Gunlayer Street, New Street, First Street, Magazine Street, St Francis Barracks and Crucifix Hill.  One unexploded bomb is removed from Central Civil Hospital.  In Valletta bombs explode in Frederic Street; St Francis Sisters’ Convent, St Domenico Chapel Oratory and some houses are damaged.

21 JU 87s carry out another dive-bombing raid on Ta Qali, leaving craters on the aerodrome and further damaging buildings and dispersal areas.  Gun positions are Bombs hit gun positions at Naxxar, and at Salina, further damaging billets of 2nd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt.  L/Cpl Torpiano of 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment is injured in the left shoulder and leg by an Ack Ack shell; [he later died].

1625 hrs  Eight JU 88s dive bomb Luqa and the Safi strip.  One Wellington under repair is burned out.

1735 hrs  One enemy reconnaissance aircraft flies over Mellieha Camp.

1745 hrs  All clear.

1900-1920 hrs  One flying boat and eight ME 109s circle north of the Island, evidently searching for casualties from the previous raid.

2105-2123 hrs  One Italian Cz 1007 aircraft approaches the Island from the south east.  One of Malta’s fighters is airborne.  One Beaufighter from Luqa is airborne to intercept: no engagement.  The enemy bomber comes no closer than 20 miles to the east, and retreats without dropping any bombs on land.

Military casualties  Corporal Herbert Green, 2nd Battalion, Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment; Sergeant Charles Gwinnutt, 222 Battery, 10th Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Paola  Concetta Campbell, age 59.  Rabat  Andrew Scicluna, age 40.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 27 APRIL 1942

HMS Urge

ROYAL NAVY  Urge sailed for Alexandria. One Swordfish and one Albacore made a successful sortie on 3 destroyers and on M/V obtaining one hit on an M/V, 340 degrees, 30 miles from Pantelleria.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gambut.

HAL FAR  Night 27/28th  One Swordfish and one Albacore despatched on shipping search Cape Bon-Pantelleria area.  One merchant vessel of 4000 tons escorted by two or three destroyers were sighted in position 340 degrees Pantelleria 30 miles, course 180 degrees 12 knots.  The merchant vessel was attacked by the Albacore.  The torpedo ran well: damage unknown.  Lots of smoke seen coming from the merchant vessel at the end of the attack.

LUQA  1015-1305 hrs  One Spitfire on photo-reconnaissance of Sicilian aerodromes, Pantelleria and Trepani Harbour.

TA QALI  No scrambles.  Men suffering with feet troubles owing to lack of boots and shoes.  Dust very trying and getting worse.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working parties as usual at Ospizio and Marsa Basin.  One Officer and 30 men clearing Merchant Street, Valletta; two Officers and 30 men clearing water mains in Valletta.  One NCO and 10 men working for Fuel-Light stores during the afternoon.  Salvaging still continues in Battalion quarters.

1ST BN THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Work on the aerodromes continues at night.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Few bombs near 24 Fortress Coy at Bahar-ic-Cahaq, no casualties.  Bombs Msida Quarters and North Square, Lintorn Barracks, no casualties. Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 9; dealt with 14 (1 x 1000kg; 2 x 500kg, 5 x 250kg, 6 x 50kg).

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  2000 hrs  Luqa working parties continued.  Bn to complete five bomber pens within a fortnight (cross-section measurements 14′ x 10′ x 4′).

2ND BN THE ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT  2115 hrs  Cpl H F Green dies at Imtarfa as a result of bomb wounds received on 25 April.

(1) “Story of events leading up to the first German plane I shot down in Malta in 1942”, by Sapper Richard Walters, Royal Engineers Library

 

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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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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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