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

Malta – World War 2. First visit to maltagc70?

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14 June 1942

MALTA FIGHTERS TO PROTECT CONVOYS

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

HMS Centurion 1918

OPERATION VIGOROUS

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

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

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

OPERATION HARPOON

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

MV Tanimbar

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 JUNE TO DAWN 15 JUNE 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

0140 hrs; 0350 hrs  Air raid alerts.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 14 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Sweeping continued and Munscair Rock buoyed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15 June 1942

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

SPITFIRES TAKE AIR WAR TO SEA

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

SS Kentucky has been hit

WESTERN CONVOY UNDER FIRE

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

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

WELSHMAN ARRIVES

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

Stricken HMS Bedouin

EASTERN CONVOY ABANDONED

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

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

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

MALTA COUNTER ATTACKS

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

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

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

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

AIR ACTIVITY DAWN 15 JUNE TO DAWN 16 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; 50% medium cloud.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spitfires over Malta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OTHER OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 15 JUNE 1942

Beaufighter

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

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

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

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

16 June 1942

FIRST TWO MERCHANT SHIPS GET THROUGH

Troilus

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

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

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 16 JUNE TO DAWN 17 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind westerly, no cloud.

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

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

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

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

0700 hrs  Unloading of the convoy ships begins.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2215 hrs  Air raid alert.

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

0210 hrs  Air raid alert.

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

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 16 JUNE 1942

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

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

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

17 June 1942

15 REMAINING SUPPLY SHIPS NOT COMING

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

Lord Gort

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

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 17 JUNE TO DAWN 18 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud – haze.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

0100 hrs  Air raid alert.

Military casualties  WOI Frederick White, Corps of Military Police.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 17 JUNE 1942

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

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

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

18 June 1942

CHURCHILL MESSAGE OF SUPPORT 

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

Spitfires 601 Squadron

AIR RAIDS DAWN 18 JUNE TO DAWN 19 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind easterly; strong.  80% cloud.

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

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

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

Military casualties  Nil.                                                   Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 18 JUNE 1942

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

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

19 June 1942

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 19 JUNE TO DAWN 20 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly; 100% medium cloud.

0630 hrs  Air raid alert.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1800 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

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

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

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

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

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 19 JUNE 1942

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

20 June 1942

MALTA ON SIEGE RATIONS – BELOW SURVIVAL LEVEL

Queue for milk

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

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

GOVERNOR REPORTS CONVOY RESULTS TO LONDON

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

Military Situation Report for Week Ending 20 June 1942

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

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

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

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 JUNE TO DAWN 21 JUNE 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1900 hrs  Convoy unloading is complete.

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

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

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

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

Military casualties  Nil.                                                 Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 20 JUNE 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
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7-13 June 1942: Cluster Bombs Scattered Across Malta

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

7 June 1942

Butterfly bomb

BUTTERFLY BOMBS DROPPED ON TOWNS AND VILLAGES

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

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

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 7 JUNE TO DAWN 8 JUNE 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1320 hrs  Air raid alert: there is no engagement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

0415 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

Military casualties  Nil                                Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS 7 JUNE 1942

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

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

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

TA QALI  Station stood down.

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

8 June 1942

ENEMY SHIPS UNDER SURVEILLANCE TO PROTECT CONVOY

Italian cruiser Trento

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 8 JUNE TO DAWN 9 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

0420 hrs  Air raid alert: no bombing.

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

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 8 JUNE 1942

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

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

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

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

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

9 June 1942

EVACUATION PLANS

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

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

HMS Eagle brings 32 more Spitfires

AIR RAIDS DAWN 9 JUNE TO DAWN 10 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; no cloud.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1935 hrs  All clear.

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

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

0330 hrs  Air raid alert.

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

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

Military casualties  Nil.

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 9 JUNE 1942

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

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

HAL FAR  AM Three delivery Spitfires arrive.

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

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

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

10 June 1942

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

MOTOR LAUNCH ATTACKED: TRUSTY STAR LOST

HMD Trusty Star

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 10 JUNE TO DAWN 11 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly; no cloud.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2130-2325 hrs  One Beaufighter is airborne on patrol.

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

2305 hrs  All clear.

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

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

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

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

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 10 JUNE 1942

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

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

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

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

11 June 1942

MALTA STANDS PREPARES FOR CONVOYS

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

HMS Beryl

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 JUNE TO DAWN 12 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly.

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

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

1030 hrs  All clear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Military casualties  Nil.                                  Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 11 JUNE 1942

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

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

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

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

TA QALI  Court martial adjourned until 27 June.

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

12 June 1942

AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 JUNE TO DAWN 13 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly; 30% high cloud.

German Junkers JU 88

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

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

0742 hrs  All clear.

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

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

1126 hrs  All clear.

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

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

1935 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialise.

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

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

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

Military casualties  Nil.                            Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 12 JUNE 1942

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

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

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

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

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

13 June 1942

WEEKLY MILITARY SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 13 JUNE 42

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

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

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

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

Building protective pens (NWMA Malta)

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

CONVOY FINAL PREPARATIONS

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 JUNE TO DAWN 14 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 13 JUNE 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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28 May 1942: Eyes of the World on Malta

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Lord Gort

LORD GORT ADDRESSES MALTA GOVERNMENT

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 MAY TO DAWN 29 MAY 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

0428 hrs  Bombs are dropped in Grand Harbour.

0440 hrs  All clear.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 28 MAY 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.  0715 hrs  Revert to normal conditions.  0725 hrs  Beach posts informed of minesweeping activity at entrance to Grand Harbour.

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

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

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MALTA NIGHT FIGHTER ATTACKS E BOATS

S Boat

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

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

MALTA BOMBERS STRIKE AT AXIS CONVOYS AND SUPPLY TRAINS

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

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

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

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 MAY TO DAWN 28 MAY 1942

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 27 MAY 1942

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

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

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

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

4th BN THE BUFFS (ROYAL EAST KENT) REGIMENT  0900-1700 hrs  Working party of 9 Officers and 200 Other Ranks plus 8 x 15 cwt trucks daily for reconstruction of pens for aircraft at Luqa aerodrome.

1st BN THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT  Working parties at Luqa and Ospizio continue.  Party at the Porte des Bombes no longer required.

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

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

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

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

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

11TH BN THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS  Luqa working party continued.

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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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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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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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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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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

 

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

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2022 in 1942, April 1942

 

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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

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

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2022 in 1942, April 1942

 

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