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20-26 September 1942: Malta Forces Subdue Luftwaffe and Rommel

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20 September 1942: George Cross Presented to People of Gozo

Citadel, Victoria, Gozo

A ceremony was held today in Victoria to formally present the George Cross to the People of Gozo.  The counterpart to last Sunday’s Valletta presentation ceremony was held at It Tokk.  All the sister Island’s leading dignitaries were present including Monsignor Gonzi and Mr George Ransley, the Commissioner for Gozo.

MALTA’S MAIN CONCERN STILL LACK OF SUPPLIES

From:  Governor (General Viscount Gort)  To:  Secretary of State for the Colonies

1.  During the month ended 20th September there were 59 alerts; 38 by day and 21 by night.  9 bombing raids; nil by day, 9 by night.  9 people were killed (4 men, 1 woman, 4 children); 11 were seriously injured (4 men, 3 women, 4 children).  15 houses were seriously damaged.

2.  The principal concern of the Government remains the control and the even distribution of commodities, both local and imported.  Apart from this, the main events of the period were the departure of Sir Edward Jackson and Locker and the arrival of Campbell as Acting Lieutenant-Governor.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 20 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 21 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility good.

No air raids.

1100-1230 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1702-1811 hrs  Ten Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far on patrol over the Island: nothing seen.

1715-1835 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties  Captain James Golding, Royal Army Pay Corps.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 20 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Surface plots were reported 15 miles off Grand Harbour, but faded by 0200 without having been confirmed.

AIR HQ  Twelve Spitfires carried out offensive recce over Sicily: no enemy aircraft sighted.  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Sicily attacked a ship 300 yards offshore near Licata.  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One DC 3 to LG 224.

HAL FAR  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron arrived as Ta Qali was under repair.

21 September 1942: Malta RAF is Helping Win the War, Says Air Marshal

The Air Officer Commanding, Malta has received the following letter from Marshal of the Royal Air Force Lord Trenhard:

“I am writing you a line to say that I had hoped to have come and visit you on my way to the Middle East.  I shall fly very near you but not come down as I am told every aeroplane is of value to take you supplies, and not to use your petrol.  Under the circumstances you will realise that I must agree to this but I am sorry from my own point of view.

B flight 249 Squadron July 42 (1)

I would like to congratulate you most heartily on what you are doing in Malta.  It is magnificent.  The Air Forces are great.  It is wonderful what they have done.  They have saved the situation everywhere and are pressing on with their work which will anyhow eventually be the great instrument for winning this war.

I do congratulate you also on the wonderful spirit that exists in Malta both in the Army and in the Air Force.  I am told, and believe it thoroughtly, that all work as one and I congratulate you and your staff, all the pilots, the maintenance crews and everyone.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 22 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility good.

1108-1136 hrs  Air raid alert.  Twelve enemy aircraft approach and observers detect and report a possible bombing raid.  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled from Hal Far to intercept but do not engage.  The attack develops into a small fighter sweep with few aircraft crossing the coast.  Malta’s fighters are airborne: no engagements.

1405-1505 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

1830-1930 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron carry out anti E boat patrol of the Sicilian coast: nothing sighted.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 21 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  With a view to eliminate the sharp turn in QBB 273 off Zonkor Point, and provide a transit line into Grand Harbour, Speedy, Hebe and Hythe carried out a clearance sweep of the small area of unswept water near Position 2, and also a strip four cables inshore of the inshore edge of the new leg of the proposed new channel.  One anti sweeping device was cut and sunk by rifle fire.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Wellington from LG 224; two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  1700-1821 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron carried out offensive reconnaissance over south east Sicily: no enemy activity.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  HQ Company fired machine-guns at Pembroke Range.  Battalion swimming competition vs 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment.  Bn won the swimming events but 1st Bn KOMR beat us at water polo.

22 September 1942: George Cross Starts Tour of Malta

GC ARRIVES IN DINGLI

George Cross Display

The George Cross medal awarded to Malta was today taken to the village of Dingli, carried by the Inspector of Police with a small police guard.  Twelve buglers of the 1st Bn Durham Light Infantry played as the George Cross was carried in procession from the outskirts of the village to the church and placed on a plinth so that villagers could view it.  At the end of the ceremony, the Army buglers heralded the medal’s departure.

To recognise the endurance of the people of Malta, the George Cross will continue its tour to all parts of the Island, including Cottonera, Luqa, Marsa, Mellieha, Mgarr, Mosta, Mqabba, Empire Stadium, Paola, Qrendi, Siggiewi, Sliema, Rabat, Zabbar, Zebbug, Zurrieq, Safi, Senglea, Zejtun and Gharghur.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 23 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0845-0910 hrs  Air raid alert. Two ME 109s, believed to be on weather reconnaissance, approach to within six miles of the coast at 30,000 feet.  Malta’s fighters are airborne; no engagements.

1015-1130 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol over the Island: nothing seen.

1215-1245 hrs  Air raid alert.  18 enemy fighters approach the Gozo to St Paul’s Bay area at 25000 feet.  Nine Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled to intercept patrol: no engagement.

1835-1935 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on anti E boat patrol: nothing sighted.

2300-0310 hrs  One Swordfish from Hal Far carries out two anti E boat patrols: nothing sighted.

2305 hrs  Beach Company, 3rd Bn Kings Own Malta Regt is warned to look out for a Beaufighter which might force-land into the sea.

2351-0039 hrs  Five enemy aircraft approach, three of which cross the coast.  Two are definitely identified as JU 87s.  They drop 250kg bombs on Qrendi and on Delimara Heavy Ack Ack position, where there is one slight casualty.  Other bombs are dropped in the sea south of Ta Silch and north of St Paul’s Bay.  Searchlights illuminate one aircraft and Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.

0023 hrs  A hostile shipping plot is reported ten miles off Grand Harbour.  Beach Companies Kings Own Malta Regiment are warned and Coastal Defences are ordered to open fire if necessary.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant James Burrett, Royal Australian Air Force;Sergeant William Doodson, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR);Flying Officer Aubrey Izzard, Royal Canadian Air Force; Flying Officer Ralph Jones, RAF VR; all 39 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 22 SEPTEMBER 1942

HMS Proteus

ROYAL NAVY  The new channel QBB 288 was declared open.  Speedy swept Proteus into harbour.  Swona swept to Marsaxlokk and back.  3rd ML Flotilla swept area to NE commenced on 15th and 16th but had to abandon the operation after 4 hours owing to the weather. 6 moored mines were cut.  Swona carried out SA and LL sweep of Marsaxlokk and approaches and also of QBB 273.  Hythe swept P 35 to sea and P 46 in from patrol. She reported having sunk a schooner and two merchant vessels.

AIR HQ  Spitfires carried out offensive recces over Sicily: no enemy sighted.  Nine Beauforts and seven Beaufighters despatched to attack enemy convoy of one tanker escorted by three destroyers.  One, possibly two hits on tanker.  One Beaufort missing, one Beaufighter damaged.

Arrivals  Two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort damaged by accompanying Beaufighter and crashed into the sea: crew missing.  One Beaufighter crashed into Beaufort while on operations: crew uninjured.  One Beaufighter damaged by enemy action crashed while attempting to land: crew slightly injured.

HAL FAR  1505-1610 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron patrol south east Sicily: nothing seen.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  C Company started their three day march.  Left billets at 0800 hrs, arrived at Mellieha Bay about 1215 hrs – distance about 13 miles.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  All Companies in the Battalion except C Coy began classification firing at Ghain Tuffieha.

23 September 1942: RAF Aircraft in Fatal Mid-Air Collision

The crew of a Malta based Beaufort were killed last night when their aircraft was in collision with a Beaufighter during an attack on an enemy convoy.  The Beaufort of 39 Squadron was one of nine sent with seven Beaufighters of 227 Squadron to target a 6000 ton tanker with three destroyers as escort, ten miles west of Antipaxos.  They reached their target as daylight was failing.

Beaufort 39 Squadron before take-off at Luqa

Two Beaufighters raked the leading destroyers with cannon fire, causing a small explosion on one, and succeeding in their objective of drawing the flak away from the torpedo-carrying Beauforts which attacked the tanker from port and starboard.  Eight torpedoes were released, scoring one definite hit and one possible hit on the tanker and causing an explosion.  Black smoke would be seen two miles away.  The other Beaufighters drove off three JU 88s accompanying the convoy.

During the mission one Beaufort collided with a Beaufighter and crashed into the sea.  The Beaufort crew are reported missing, presumed dead.  They have been named as Flight Sergeant James Burrett, Sergeant William Doodson, Flying Officer Aubrey Izzard and Flying Officer Ralph Jones; all 39 Squadron.

The Beaufighter remained airborne but late last night Malta’s coastal defences were warned to keep a look out for the damaged aircraft which might force-land into the sea.  The Beaufighter made it back to base but crashed while attempting to land, causing slight injuries to the crew.

Later in the night six Wellingtons of 69 Squadron found the convoy again, this time 33 miles south west of Antipaxos.  The destroyers attempted to lay a smoke screen, but this was blown away by the wind.  The Wellingtons dropped twenty 500lb bombs dropped, some of which fell within 15 yards of the port side of the tanker.  According to reconnaissance photographs taken at first light the tanker has been forced to take refuge in Patras Harbour.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 23 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 24 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

AM  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are despatched on air sea rescue to 35 miles north of Grand Harbour but find nothing.

0958-1143 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept patrol (two return early): no sightings.  Four more patrol 30 miles north of the Island: no sightings.

1055-1135 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept two enemy aircraft but develop radio trouble and return to base: nothing sighted.

1350-1409 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron are scrambled to intercept and climb to 20000 feet over Grand Harbour before flying at 14000 feet to within ten miles of the Sicilian coast: nothing seen.

1605-1710 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

0005-0030 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy bombers, none of which cross the coast.  Bombs are dropped in the sea off Delimara.  One is engaged by 4th Bn Heavy Ack Ack Regt.  The enemy raider shoots down the searchlight beams with his machine gun.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer Ian Preston, Royal Canadian Air Force, 126 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 23 SEPTEMBER 1942

AIR HQ  1845-2205 hrs  Two Beaufighters are despatched on intruder patrol: one shoots up E boats and submarines moored at Trapani.  The other shoots up a seaplane station.

Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; two Beaufighters to Abu Sueir.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire believed damaged by enemy fighters: pilot missing.

HAL FAR  1740-1850 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron carried out a sweep of south east Sicily: enemy aircraft reported but not seen.  2300-0325 hrs  One Swordfish RNAS carried out two anti E boat offensive patrols: nothing seen.

TA QALI  Aerodrome was unserviceable while new drainage system was being installed across the centre of the landing ground.  229 Squadron detachment operated from Luqa.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A Company fired on F Range Pembroke: results very good.

24 September 1942: Malta Bombers Praised for Strike Against Rommel

MESSAGE FROM AIR OFFICE COMMANDING READS

Beaufighter as flown by 227 Squadron

“Well done again 227 Squadron.  Your successful bombing of a merchant vessel on September 17th has deprived Rommel of yet another ship carrying important supplies.”

AIR RAIDS DAWN 24 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 25 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0800-0835 hrs  Air raid alert for seven ME 109s approaching the Island.  Nine Spitfires 249 Squadron (one spare returned early) are scrambled to intercept.  Blue Section sights four ME 109s but lose them in the sun.  Red Section report no sightings.  Only three enemy raiders cross the coast at 27000 feet.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds: no claims.

1025-1055 hrs  Air raid alert as nine ME 109s approach the Island.  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept with no sightings.  Six enemy raiders cross the coast at 23-270000 feet.  Malta’s fighters are airborne and engage.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.

1705-1720 hrs  Air raid alert for six enemy fighters which cross the coast and carry out a fighter sweep from Gozo to Kalafrana.  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled to intercept: nothing sighted.

1900 hrs  One Spitfire returning from Luqa is damaged on landing: pilot P/O Williams is uninjured.

Military casualties  Major Douglas Armstrong, 57 Field Hygiene Section, Royal Army Medical Corps.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 24 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Proteus sailed for Gibraltar, being swept out by Hebe.

AIR HQ  Two Beauforts of 39 Squadron made their first night torpedo attack on a convoy of three destroyers, one small unidentified naval vessel and a 5/6000 ton merchant vessel, which was coast crawling northwards, ten miles north of Point Stile.  Two torpedoes were dropped but although they were seen to run well the results could not be observed, as the aircraft had to fly into the moon on leaving the target.  One Hurricane and two Beaufighters carried out intruder patrols over Sicily.  Arrivals  Three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar.

HAL FAR  0625-0755 hrs  Ten Spitfires made a reconnaissance sweep over south east Sicily: no enemy activity.

TA QALI  1735-1900 hrs  Nine Spitfires 229 Squadron and nine of 249 Squadron (one of each Squadron returned early) on Rodeo raids.  P/O Beurling 249 Squadron sighted one unidentified enemy aircraft: no combat.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  A Company fired machine-guns on F range Pembroke.  C Coy marched back from Mellieha, arrived at billets about 1330 hrs.  B & D Coys held a night exercise.

25 September 1942: Luftwaffe Fighters Flee in Face of Spitfires

US AIR FORCE LIBERATORS ATTACK BENGHAZI – MALTA RECONNAISSANCE PILOTS REPORT SUCCESS

Port of Benghazi before attacks

Photographs taken of Benghazi by Malta reconnaissance pilots have revealed the success of a recent raid by US air force Liberators.  A 7000 ton merchant vessel which had been unloading in the port has clearly been blown to pieces, together with most of the improvised jetty at which she was moored.  The destruction of the jetty has reduced by half the wharfage available to the enemy for unloading large ships at Benghazi.  Another 7000 ton ship was also reported to be damaged.

BEAT THE RETREAT

At dusk this evening, Castile Square echoed to the moving tradition of Beat the Retreat, by the band and drums of 2nd Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment.  The ceremony at 1800 hrs was performed before the General Officer Commanding, Malta and other dignitaries, plus many onlookers who gathered to enjoy the moment.  A brief air raid alert at 1750 hrs threatened to disrupt proceedings but the yellow flag only was raised over the Castile and it was decided to continue with the parade.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 26 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine: visibility good – slight early morning haze.

1115-1145 hrs  Air raid alert for twelve ME 109s approaching the Island. Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept and encounter the raiders 35 miles north east of Grand Harbour.  They destroy two ME 109s and damage one.  One Spitfire is damaged in combat and crash-lands: the pilot is uninjured.

1750-1815 hrs  Air raid alert.  17 ME 109s approach to within 10 miles of Gozo.  Malta fighters see the enemy but are unable to engage as the raiders flee northwards to avoid conflict.

Night  No alerts.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                                         Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 25 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P 37 arrived from Gibraltar to join 10th S/M Flotilla and was swept into harbour by Hebe.  P 34 sailed for the United Kingdom, and P 42 and Una on patrol, all being swept out by Hebe.  Weather unsuitable for air operations.

AIR HQ  Three Beaufighters despatched to attack a minesweeper in the area Kuriat to Sfax.  Target not located.  One Cant 506 B destroyed.  Arrivals  One DC3 from LG 224; two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Five Hudsons to Gibraltar; one DC 3 to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crash landed due to enemy action: pilot uninjured.

HAL FAR  185 Squadron released.

TA QALI  0645-0745 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol sight barges loaded with sacks but do not attack.  1530-1630 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron on reconnaissance cross the Sicilian coast: no sightings.

26 September 1942: Malta Attacks Enemy Tanker, Merchantmen, Destroyers and Subs

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING 26 SEPTEMBER 1942

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

1.  Enemy air: Six alerts daylight for total 83 aircraft – high fighter sweeps: two ME 109s destroyed, one ME 109 damaged.  Seven aircraft approached Bight, four crossed coast, bombs Qrendi and Delimara areas.

2.  Own air:  Day (A) Nine Beauforts, seven Beaufighters attacked tanker escorted by three destroyers.  One, possibly two, hits on tanker.  One Beaufort missing, one Beaufighter damaged.  (B)  Three Beaufighters despatched to attack minesweeper: target not located.  One Cant 506B destroyed.  (C)  Over 100 Spitfire sorties offensive reconnaissance Sicily.  One ME 109 destroyed, one probably destroyed, without loss.

Night  (A)  Six Wellingtons attacked tanker: stick of bombs within 15 yards.  (B)  Three Beauforts attacked 5/6000 ton merchant vessel escorted by three destroyers: results not seen.  (C)  Total five Beaufighters, one Hurricane, on intruder patrols Sicily: E boats and submarines Trapani and small ship off Licata machine-gunned.

3.  General: Approximately 450 soldiers daily detailed to assist RAF.

4.  Military casualties and damage: one officer wounded last April now died; one other rank slight casualty.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 27 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Weather fine; visibility good.

0910-1030 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept a report of approaching enemy aircraft.  The raid does not materialise and no raiders are seen.

1040-1130 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

1735-1835 hrs  Ten Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft (two return early with radio trouble).  The raiders retreat before they are seen.

2005-2035 hrs  Air raid alert for two enemy bombers approaching the Island; only one crosses the coast and is illuminated by searchlights for 3 ¾ minutes.  All bombs are dropped in the sea.

Military casualties  Gunner Joseph Pulis, 11th AA, Royal Malta Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 26 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY Hebe swept Utmost in from patrol and then proceeded to Dockyard for retubing of boilers. P 211 sailed, being swept out by Hythe.  A report of a fire in the Dockyard area turns out to be a crashed bomber (identified as friendly).

AIR HQ  Spitfires carried out offensive recces over Sicily.  One ME 109 destroyed, one probably destroyed.  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Castel Vetrano: no sightings.  Arrivals  One Spitifre from LG 28.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed on landing: pilot uninjured.  One Beaufighter engine failure: crew injured.

TA QALI  1345-1435 hrs  Three Spitfires 229 Squadron on reconnaissance patrol cross the Sicilian coast over Comiso: no sightings.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 24.  Dealt with: 6 High Explosives (2 x 500kg; 4 x 250kg;); 1 anti-personnel container; 18 anti-personnel bombs; 9 oil incendiaries.

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

 

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13 September 1942: George Cross Presented to People of Malta

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WATCH THE PRESENTATION CEREMONY 1942                   

The daylight skies of Malta are now considered safe enough for a major event to be held in the open air.  After months of waiting, His Excellency the Governor and Commander in Chief Viscount Gort, VC made the formal presentation of the George Cross to the people of Malta in Palace Square this morning.  The simple and dignified ceremony began with a guard of honour of the Royal Malta Artillery who marched down Kingsway and into the Square, accompanied by the band of the King’s Own Malta Regiment.

At 9.15 am, a wooden display case holding the Cross was carried out of the Palace by Police Commissioner Joseph Axisa and handed to Viscount Gort, who addressed the assembled company:

“On my appointment as Governor of Malta, I was entrusted to carry the George Cross to this Island fortress.  By the command of the King, I now present to the People of Malta and her Dependencies the decoration which His Majesty has awarded to them in recognition of the gallant service which they have already rendered in the fight for freedom.

How you have withstood for many months the most concentrated bombing attacks in the history of the world is the admiration of all civilised peoples.  Your homes and your historic buildings have been destroyed and only their ruins remain as monuments to the hate of a barbarous foe.  The Axis Powers have tried again and again to break your spirit but your confidence in the final triumph of the United Nations remains undimmed.

Governor & C in C presents George Cross to Sir George Borg (c) IWM GM 1765

What Malta has withstood in the past, without flinching, Malta is determined to endure until the day when the second siege is raised.  Battle-scarred George Cross Malta, the sentinel of Empire in the Meditteranean, meanwhile stands firm, undaunted and undismayed, awaiting the time when she can call ‘Pass friend, all is well in the Island Fortress.”

Finishing with a reading of the original citation, Viscount Gort formally presented the George Cross to His Honour Sir George Borg Kt, who received it on behalf of the people of Malta and its Dependencies.  He then gave a brief address thanking His Majesty and the Governor for the recognition and appreciation of the people of Malta.

The ceremony was attended by the commanding officers of the Army, Navy and Air Forces in Malta, with special places reserved for the captains and officers of the valiant Santa Marija convoy.  1st Coast Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery provided the Guard of Honour.  Squeezed between piles of neatly piled debris from bomb damaged buildings, detachments from all three armed services lined the Square, alongside the Island’s Police, Special Constabulary and Passive Defence Organisations.

(c) IWM 130942

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 14 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

0800-0840 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are airborne to intercept reported enemy raiders but they do not materialise.  In the course of practice flying Sgt Swain goes into a spin from 3000 feet and crashes in a field near Luqa.  He is killed and the aircraft destroyed.

0910-1025 hrs  Five Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol sight two ME 109s but lose them in the cloud.  Two Macchi 202s are then seen flying at great speed.  No combats.

0156-0219 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three enemy bombers approach but only one crosses the  coast, dropping bombs on the area of Ta Qali.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Malta’s night fighter is airborne: no engagement.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Lawrence Swain, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 185 Squadron.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 13 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P34 and P42 returned from patrol and were swept in the Hythe.  P35 returned to harbour with engine defect.

AIR HQ  17 Spitfires carried out an offensive reconnaissance over Sicily.  Enemy aircraft sighted but no combat.  0245-0440 hrs  One Beaufighter on intruder patrol over Sicily.  Arrivals  Two Hudsons, one Beaufort from Gibraltar; two Wellingtons from LG 224.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire stalled and crashed: pilot killed.

HAL FAR  1105-1210 hrs  Five Spitfires were airborne on a sweep over South East Sicily: no enemy aircraft sighted.

TA QALI   0720-0830 hrs  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron (one returned early) on reconnaissance patrol over the Sicilian coast.  They encountered heavy Ack Ack fire but ¼ mile behind aircraft.  Enemy aircraft not sighted.  1845-1935 hrs  One Spitfire 249 Squadron and one of 229 Squadron on shipping search: no sightings.

1st Bn KING’S OWN MALTA REGIMENT  The following letter of appreciation was received:  “I am directed by the GOC to convey to you His Excellency’s congratulations on the smartness of the guard provided by the 1st Bn King’s Own Malta Regiment.  The GOC wishes to add his own congratulations and I am to request that you will make this known to the Commander, 1st Bn The King’s Own Malta Regiment and the NCOs and men who formed the guard.”

 

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30 August-5 September 1942: Malta Faces Malnutrition

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30 August 1942: Rations Cut Again – Meat Only Twice a Week

From:  Governor Malta                To:  Air Ministry             30 August 1942

Please pass to Secretary of State for the Colonies and Chiefs of Staff MidEast please pass to Minister of State Cairo.

1.  Unloading and dispersal of supplies from convoy is now complete except for aviation and benzene, fortress can hold out until early December.  Aviation spirit position has been reported separately to Chiefs of Staff in HQ Med Sig 0726 of 25/8.  Benzine consumption has been reduced to 15,200 gallons per week but even so stocks will only last until mid-November.  Benzine can be made to last until target date by drawing on 77 octane but this is likely to be required for blending with aviation spirit.  We have 600 tons of 77 octane available, of which 250 tons are held as fortress reserve of MT spirit and 100 tons are needed for consumption by naval and RAF craft.

2.  Target date of early December allows for following adjustments of consumption on civil side:

  • (i)  Bread ration for men between 16 and 60 will be increased by 3½ ounces per day to 14 ounces.
  • (ii)  Fat ration will be at half normal ration level during September but I hope to increase it to normal level at beginning of October.
  • (iii)  Regular issues of edible oil will be made at normal ration rates.
  • (iv)  There will be regular issues of coffee with possibly one period skipped.
  • (v)  Regular weekly issues of kerosene will be made as from 1st October but at summer rather than higher winter rate.
  • (vi)  Domestic electricity supply will be restored on 1st October.
  • (vii)  Brewing will be resumed as soon as possible.
  • (viii)  Present reduced rations of sugar and soap will be maintained, sugar being issued twice every three half-monthly periods and soap once very two periods.

3.  Victory kitchens now have 60,000 persons registered and 170 kitchens are in operation.  Further rapid expansion is possible but supply of vegetables cannot be further increased while potatoes are now almost unobtainable and meat supply is not as great as was expected and is already falling off.  In future it will be possible to provide meat on only two days a week instead of five, and this may later have to be reduced to one if registration increases as expected. 

Victory Kitchen

In this situation I have been carefully considering the future of the Victory kitchens.  Allowing for small increases in rations now being made, calorie value of rationed foods per day for a man between 16 and 60 who is member of average size family is 1300, or 200 calories below figure normally taken as minimum.  Outside rations, very little food is obtainable.  Fresh meat, fish and vegetables are all too scarce to be rationed, even if this were possible from other points of view.  Marketing of meat and vegetables is now under control of Government and no meat except poultry and rabbits and small amount only of vegetables is being sold on open market.  Victory kitchens provide only satisfactory method of distributing evenly what meat and vegetables are available and if we were now to revert to old arrangement under which kitchens provide meals only on surrender of rations allowing majority of meat and vegetable supply to return to open market, effect would be that poorer classes would get very little, while those who are prepared to pay any price would obtain what they wished.

4.  I am satisfied that in our present food situation it is essential to continue existing policy of providing one meal a day through kitchens outside rations so as to raise calorie value of diet to about 1800 calories.  This can only be done by introducing considerable quantities of imported supplies into the menus.  I have decided accordingly that all civil supplies of dried vegetables, dried eggs and cheese shall be allotted to the communal feeding department and that [pasta] shall be issued through kitchens on a substantial scale, estimated to absorb 230 tons of flour per month on an average registration of 150,000 persons.  This allotment of flour has been allowed for in calculating target date.  Menu will then consist of macaroni and cheese on two days, minestra on two days, meat and vegetables on two days and an egg dish on one day.  I anticipate that effect of new policy will be to encourage rapid increase in registration.

5.  In spite of increased issues described above, the civil food situation is still causing me considerable anxiety.  Rates of rations and general scale of diet remain low.  No signs of serious malnutrition have yet appeared but prolonged continuance of present food shortage must have its effect both on health and morale and shortage will be more seriously felt in winter.  Anything which can be done by special means at any time before another convoy is run, to supplement diet by importing concentrated foodstuffs or food of small bulk, will help greatly.  I will telegraph our immediate requirements of these types of food in the course of the next two days in case any special opportunity occurs to send such supplies.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 AUGUST TO DAWN 31 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; little or no cloud: visibility 15-20 miles.  Wind variable becoming southerly; light.

No air raid alerts.

1105-1215 hrs; 1625-1725  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron then ten 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled on patrol: no enemy aircraft are sighted.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 30 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde arrived from Gibraltar and was swept into Marsaxlokk by Hythe.  Una sailed on patrol.

AIR HQ  Day  Nine Beauforts escorted by eleven Beaufighters were despatched to attack an enemy convoy.  Night  One Beaufighter carried out an intruder patrol over Sicily.  Arrivals  Two Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Four Beauforts to LG 224.

HAL FAR  Ten Spitfires went out to area 15-30 miles south east of Correnti Island and patrolled at 20000 feet over returning Beauforts.  No enemy aircraft seen.

TA QALI  Final movement of 248 Squadron pilots to United Kingdom.

31 August 1942: Alerts Total 2225 in 25 Months

AIR RAID STATISTICS AUGUST 1942

  • Total number of alerts to date  2225
  • Total number of alerts this month 141
  • Bombing raids  day 39  night  20
  • Raid-free days  3
  • Night raids  37
  • Raid-free nights  12
  • Alerts for own planes  8
  • Total time from air raid alert to raiders passed  2 days, 56 mins
  • Average length of alert 29.1 mins
  • Killed  41 (15 men, 12 women, 14 children)
  • Seriously injured  33 (10 men, 14 women, 9 children)
  • Buildings seriously damaged  58

OPERATION PEDESTAL UPDATE

Ledbury after Operation Pedestal, NWMA Malta

A total of 568 survivors from ships sunk during Operation Pedestal were landed at Malta. 207 of whom sailed in Penn, Bramham, and Ledbury on 18th August. The remainder being evacuated by air as opportunity arises.  The bulk of the cargo was unloaded by 23rd August, about 12,000 tons of furnace fuel, 3600 tons of diesel fuel, and 32,000 tons of general cargo having been received.  The enemy made no attempt to bomb any of the ships after they had arrived in harbour, or, in fact, once they were within comfortable range of shore based fighter protection.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 AUGUST TO DAWN 1 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Weather fine, visibility 20-30 miles.  Wind south-westerly, light; varying north westerly, light to moderate.

Day  No air raid alerts.

0915-1005 hrs; 1515-1645 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron then four of 249 Squadron Ta Qali carry out patrols: no enemy aircraft sighted.

2221-2246 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy bombers approached from the north but receded before crossing the coast.

Military casualties  Able Seaman Arthur Jones, Royal Navy.

Civilian casualties  Birzebbugia  Carmela Ellul, age 30.  Mqabba  Emanuel Zammit, age 7; Joseph Zammit, age 6.  Paola  Emanuel Paris.  Qormi  Spiro Saliba, age 40.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 31 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  ML carried out sweep of the area extending seaward of entrances to Grand Harbour and Marsamxett to the 40 fathom line, and swept two moored mines and one conical float.

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar; one Bisley to LG 224.

INFANTRY  R Company, Lancashire Fusiliers, took over area from E Company, 2nd Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment, and vice versa.

1 September 1942: Anti-Personnel Bomb Kills Two Children

MALTA FIGHTERS’ SCORE NEARS 1000

Malta Radar stations detect raiders (NWMA Malta)

Reports released today show that 936 Axis aircraft have been destroyed over Malta or by Malta-based aircraft since Italy entered the war in June 1940.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 2 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fine, visibility 10-15 miles.

1300 hrs  One anti-personnel bomb explodes on Ta Qali aerodrome, seriously injuring three Maltese children: two of them die in hospital.

1858-1907 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy fighters.  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept but the raiders turn back five miles from the Island.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Rabat  Francis Sammut, age 16; Carmel Tanti, age 14.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 1 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P35 arrived and was swept into harbour, having sunk a southbound 5,000 ton merchant vessel.

AIR HQ  2150 hrs  Five Wellingtons 69 Squadron were despatched to attack a 4000 ton tanker with an escort of two destroyers near Corfu.  They dropped four 250lb and twenty 500lb bombs with several near-misses: the convoy continued on course.  One Wellington missing.  0130 hrs  One Beaufighter carried out an intruder patrol over Sicily.  No enemy sighted.

Arrivals  Four Beauforts, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire tyre burst on take-off, crash-landed: pilot uninjured.  One Beaufighter undercarriage collapsed on landing: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  0930-1035 hrs  Four Spitfires Hal Far carried out a high level sweep over Correnti Island, Noto, Ragusa and Pozzala in Sicily.  No enemy aircraft or shipping sighted.  1315-1325 hrs  The Spitfire of Pilot Officer Cheek crash-landed on an air test: his tyre burst on take-off and he had to land ‘wheels up’.

LUQA  Luqa beat the Gun Operations Room in a cricket match: results Luqa 108 (Neale 46), GOA 97.  Camp Cinema: Captain Fury.

TA QALI  0705-0805 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron carried out a sweep over Sicily: no enemy aircraft sighted.  1200-1315 hrs  Nine Spitfires 229 Squadron and nine 249 Squadron Ta Qali on a sweep over Sicily saw ships believed to be tankers outside Licata Harbour.  The Spitfires are met with heavy, accurate anti-aircraft fire over Licata at 11000 feet but see no enemy aircraft.

Nos 242, 314, 502 and 841 AME Stations, Observer Corps Detachments at Dingli, Torri L’Ahmar and Ghargur, Officers’ and Airmen’s rest camp at St Paul’s Bay taken over by this Station for administration and rations.

INFANTRY  0545 hrs  Exercise to test the alertness of sentries and communications within 4 Brigade.  Also rapid destruction of parachutists in the Brigade area.  Exercise began with firing of three Verey lights around Marsaxlokk Bay.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  A Company are performing coast patrol duties at Il Kaus; B Company are manning Tal Virtu observation post.

2 September 1942: Malta Attacks Force Rommel’s Retreat

OFFENSIVE OPS CUT AXIS FUEL AND SUPPLIES

“We have some very grave shortages.”  Letter from Rommel to his wife, 30 August 1942

Malta-based attacks on southbound convoys in the Mediterranean have forced Field Marshal Rommel to give up his attempt to retake El Alamein.  The Island’s air and naval forces have starved the Axis of more than half of the supplies they need to continue the battle in North Africa.  Rommel originally intended to begin a major offensive against British forces on 26 August but had to postpone due to a shortage of fuel, thanks to the sinking of two tankers in the Mediterranean.

Field Marshal Rommel’s plan stopped

With a promise that another convoy would set out immediately from Italy, at 2330 hrs on Sunday Rommel launched an attack at Alam el Halfa but came up against a massive minefield and a well-equipped British force under Lt Gen Montgomery.  But nine Beauforts and eleven Beaufighters had already set off from Malta to attack the supply convoy, which had been spotted by 69 Squadron photo-reconnaissance pilots.  At the same time destroyers, bombers and naval aircraft launched heavy attacks on Axis stores and workshops close to the battlefield.

Yesterday Malta-based submarine P 35 sank a southbound 5000 ton merchant vessel and the Island’s bombers stand ready to act immediately to any further attempts to re-supply the enemy.  Attacks continued today with Wellington bombers targeting a tanker and Navy Air Service Albacores striking a merchant vessel and escort with torpedoes.

After three days of relentless allied bombing and artillery fire and faced with a precarious supply situation Rommel has been forced to call off the attack and withdraw his forces.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 3 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair but cloudy.

0915-1020 hrs; 1015-1055 hrs  Five Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali at a time on intercept patrol and sweep: no sightings.

1015-1045 hrs  Five Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on patrol: nothing sighted.

1303 hrs  Three enemy aircraft are reported approaching Malta.  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol sight one Macchi 202.  F/Lt Hetherington, W/Cdr Donaldson and P/O Farmer each fire a burst in turn, all obtaining strikes.  The tail of the Macchi is shot off and the aircraft goes down streaming glycol.  The remaining aircraft recede without coming within 25 miles of the Island.

1930-1950 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties   Corporal Arthur Simpson, Royal Engineers, Malta Territorial Force.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 2 SEPTEMBER 1942

P34 HMS Ultimatum

ROYAL NAVY  P34 swept out but returned to Marsaxlokk with a leaky DSEA hatch.

AIR HQ  1305 hrs  An offensive reconnaissance by four Spitfires over Sicily.  One Macchi 200 is shot down.  Night  Two Wellingtons were despatched to attack the tanker targeted last night, now 10 miles south west of Antipaxos.  The drop six 500lb bombs on the tanker, scoring one hit and causing a large explosion, followed by clouds of white smoke.

Arrivals  One DC3 from Shallufa two Beauforts one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One DC3 to LG 224.    Aircraft casualties  One Hudson tyre believed burst during take-off, crashed and burned out: crew uninjured.

HAL FAR  1720-1830 hrs  Five Spitfires carried out a sweep over Sicily and encounter enemy aircraft.  2129-0235 hrs  One Swordfish with flares and two Albacores NAS located and attacked a 5000 ton merchant vessel, escorted by two destroyers and a small flak ship, 15 miles north east of Cape Spartivento heading easterly.  They located the target just off the toe of Sicily and score hits with two torpedoes, one aft of the funnel and one aft of the bridge, followed by a violent explosion.  They leave the vessel down by the stern and belching clouds of black and white smoke.  A later photo-reconnaissance report showed the merchant vessel aground close to where it had been attacked.

3 September 1942: Reconnaissance Pilots Praised for Axis Convoy Hits

“The Air Officer Commanding sends personal congratulations to 69 Squadron (Reconaissance) for successful attacks on two successive nights, when Wellingtons scored direct hits on an important tanker heading for North Africa and also near-misses on destroyers.  The loss or even the disabling of the enemy tanker should greatly assist the British fighting Rommel.”

69 Squadron crew disembark Baltimore Luqa 1942 (c) IWM GM 1042

 

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 4 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair but cloudy.

0935-1030 hrs  Five Spitfires Hal Far are airborne on patrol: nothing sighted.

1405-1510 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

1701-1720 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five Spitfires from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  Two enemy fighters fly over Comino Channel at 20,000 feet.  Spitfires chase them back to within 10 miles of the Sicilian coast but are unable to intercept.

1845-1930 hrs  Six Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 3 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P34 sailed for trials and proceeded on patrol. Clyde and P43 were also swept out to sea.

AIR HQ  Departures  Two Beauforts to LG 224.

LUQA  Camp cinema: Tarzan Finds a Son.

TA QALI  1540-1635 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron on offensive reconnaissance circled Linosa and spotted a new building – ‘apparently’ a church.  No enemy aircraft sighted.

4 September 1942: Navy Albacores Disable Axis Supply Ship

Fairey Albacore

Two Albacores Royal Naval Air Squadrons were despatched today to finish off the merchant vessel beached after their previous attack on Wednesday night.  One Albacore scored a torpedo hit on the ship’s port quarter, while the other scored a direct hit with a 250lb bomb on the destroyer alongside, and straddled the merchant vessel with two other bombs.   Photo-reconnaissance later showed that the merchant vessel had a large gap in her starboard side.

Later tonight two Wellington bombers took advantage of intense darkness to attack a small merchant vessel 30 miles east of Point Alice.  They dropped a total of eight 500lb bombs on the ship but were unable to observe results, which will await confirmation by photo-reconnaissance.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 5 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Local thunder; rain with bright periods.  Visibility 10-15 miles.

0848-0908 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy fighters approach at low altitude, apparently intending a low-level machine gun attack, but turn back while still eight miles off the coast.  Malta’s fighters are airborne: no engagement.

1459-1544 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eighteen enemy fighters approach the Island; four are identified as ME 109s.  Some of the raiders skirt the Zonqor coast, while others patrol five miles north of Gozo.  Malta fighters are airborne: no engagement.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.

1700-1750 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on intercept patrol: no sightings.

2230 hrs  Observers of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report a light out to sea, 80 degrees RA 4.

2313-2321 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft approach the Island but turn back when 20 miles north west of Gozo, dropping bombs in the sea.

Military casualties  Pilot Officer William Storer, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; Private Ronald Rooke, 2nd Bn Devonshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 4 SEPTEMBER 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Night  Two Albacores RNAS were despatched to attack a merchant vessel beached eight miles north of Bianca.

AIR HQ  1720 hrs  Six Beauforts and six Beaufighters were despatched to attack a convoy off Cape Spartivento but failed to locate the target.  Night  Two Wellingtons attacked a small merchant vessel 30 miles east of Point Alice, dropping eight 500lb bombs on the ship.  No results are seen due to the intense darkness.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire had engine trouble, force-landed: pilot uninjured.

HAL FAR  1000-1115 hrs  Four Spitfires carried out a Rodeo raid over Sicily but encounter no enemy aircraft.  PM  Seven Spitfires were despatched on a sweep over Sicily.  The leader had a faulty radio and broke formation: owing to a misunderstanding the rest followed suit and as a result the Spitfires returned to base.

LUQA  Luqa beat the RASC at cricket by nine wickets: RASC 36, Luqa 38 for one wicket.  Camp cinema: Second Chorus.

TA QALI  0650-0750 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on Rodeo: no enemy aircraft sighted.  1320-1430 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on offensive reconnaissance sighted two unidentified aircraft but did not intercept due to a radio fault and subsequent misunderstanding.

1st Bn DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY  Major General Scobie, GOC troops Malta, visited the Battalion.  This is the second time the Bn has been under his command – Tobruk October 1941 was the first.

5 September 1942: Dog Fight Over Grand Harbour

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT WEEK ENDING 5 SEPT 1942

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

1.  Enemy activity confined 48 fighter sorties by day and 6 bomber sorties by night.  One JU 88 crossed coast; good [searchlight] illumination.  Bombs on land.  One Macchi 202 destroyed, two ME 109s probably destroyed.  Own losses nil.  Recently there has been a large decrease in the numbers of bombers and fighters in Sicily, particularly German.

2.  Own air offensive continues.  150 Spitfire sorties over Sicily also 4 Beaufighters by night.  Malta based air attacks on convoys to Libya continue resulting in 1 tanker blown up, 1 tanker stationary, 2 merchant vessels hit by torpedoes, one destroyer hit by bombs; near-misses one merchant vessel, one destroyer.

3.  Military damage and casualties nil.  Intensified training being carried out.  Small parties employed on aerodromes.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 5 SEPTEMBER TO DAWN 6 SEPTEMBER 1942

Weather  Fair; visibility 10-15 miles.

0735-0810 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: no sightings.

0910-0958 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron and five from Hal Far are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  One Spitfire of 249 returns early, its hood blown off.

Grand Harbour

12 ME 109s and Macchi 202s cross the coast and circle over Grand Harbour area.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  The Spitfires intercept some of the enemy over Grand Harbour and others 20 miles off Zonqor.  249 Squadron engage six ME 109s. P/O Williams scores strikes on one.  P/O Giddings attacks a second; he sees no strikes but a panel flies off the port wing of the enemy aircraft.  Hal Far pilot F/Lt Charney destroys one Macchi 202.

1440-1510 hrs  Air raid alert. Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy fighters.  Heavy Ack Ack fire pointer rounds.  The Spitfires see three ME 109s and four other fighters six miles east of Zonqor and chase them back towards Sicily: no engagement.

1725-1825 hrs  Ten Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept a reported formation of enemy aircraft: raid does not materialise.

2250-2317 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy bombers approach the Island; one recedes 40 miles from the coast.  The other, a JU 88, crosses the coast and drops bombs in the area of Birkirkara.  Malta night fighters are airborne: no interceptions.  Searchlights effect one illumination and Heavy Ack Ack engage.

2230 hrs  Observers of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt report several white verey lights off the Delimara area.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Tarxien  Joseph Bonnici, age 56.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 5 SEPTEMBER 1942

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufort, three Wellingtons, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; two Beauforts to LG 224.

HAL FAR  0640-0800 hrs  Five Spitfires 185 Squadron carried out a sweep over Sicily: no enemy aircraft encountered.

LUQA  Camp cinema: camp talent contest.

TA QALI  1145-1315 hrs  Thirteen Spitfires 249 Squadron (two returned early) and nine of 229 Squadron (one returned early) were despatched on a Rodeo raid.  Two enemy fighters are seen but not intercepted.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 26.  Dealt with: 7 High Explosives (2 x 500kg; 4 x 250kg; 1 x 50kg); 116 anti-personnel bombs, 18 oil incendiaries.

 

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

 
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15 August 1942: Santa Marija – Convoy Survivor Ohio Arrives on Feast Day

MALTA WAR DIARY: OPERATION PEDESTAL – SANTA MARIJA – FINAL DAY                                

Maltagc70 returns 22 August with weekly diary.  For updates direct to your computer sign up to follow (see R)

 

“I think I am speaking for all in saying that we are disappointed at not doing better but we should like to try again.”  E N Syfret, Vice-Admiral, Flag Officer Commanding, Operation Pedestal

Ohio inched into Grand Harbour (NWMA Malta)

OHIO COMES IN – WITH HER CARGO OF FUEL

Early this morning the tanker Ohio was cradled into Grand Harbour to a rapturous welcome.  Maltese and military crowded every available space to cheer the battered ship as she passed through the arms of the harbour entrance and into shelter.

Her decks barely above the water line, the tanker was carefully inched into her place in history, and berth at Parlatorio Wharf in French Creek – where Illustrious had also survived an enemy bent on her destruction.  After a traumatic twenty four hours, Ohio was berthed in shallow water and settled on the bottom.

Of the merchant ships now in harbour, Port Chalmers is undamaged and Melbourne Star only superficially. The Rochester Castle has been hit by a torpedo and water entered Nos 1 and 2 holds.  The Brisbane Star has also received a torpedo hit forward and No 2 hold was slightly flooded.  The Ohio‘s engine room was partly flooded due to a hit by a heavy bomb, and the port side of the pump room had been holed by either a mine or a torpedo.  However, the majority of her fuel cargo is intact and available.

Survivors disembark Ledbury, NWMA Malta

“That these five ships did make their goal is a magnificent tribute to the resolution shown by all concerned, and a special word of praise is due to the gallant Master of the Ohio (Captain D W Mason), to Penn (Lieutenant-Commander J H Swain, RN), Ledbury (Lieutenant-commander R P Hill, RN) and Bramham (Lieutenant E F Baines, RN), to the Malta local forces, and to the Royal Air Force based on Malta. (1)

“WE WERE A SITTING TARGET” – OHIO GUNNERS DESCRIBE LAST HOURS OF TANKER’S JOURNEY

Seven planes appeared above and we shouted to the bridge who thought they were Spitfires and told us so. The ‘Spitfires’ banked and screamed down narrowly missing us with bombs but one hit the Ohio square on the stern. We really thought the whole damn lot of us were going to blow up, but our luck held. Thank God! The attack was so sudden that B gun only fired eight rounds. It was getting dusk and the planes were able to get gloriously close to us without being seen. We saw one going away which appeared to be badly damaged…

Darkness came as a godsend and then we really got to work…we decided that the Bramham should go alongside the tanker on her starboard side and that we should tow her between us…at last we were secured to the skipper’s satisfaction and although we were a lovely target for any lurking submarine we remained still until the following morning. Then we started the last stage of the hellish trip to Malta at seven knots!

All that day we were left alone, this being due to the fighter escort from Malta.  We sighted the Island at 1930 and hoped we would make it that night. But we were informed that we would not arrive till next morning. So it was at 0800 the next day we steamed through the breakwater into the Grand Harbour at Malta. Two ships, small destroyers, of only 1600 tons, with an oil tanker between them had safely brought the last ship of the convoy safely to its destination. The people of Valletta lined the harbour to cheer us, and the military band played ‘Hearts of Oak’ as we entered, making us feel very fed up because we did not ask for praise. We had only done what we set out to do.”  W R Cheetham and D Burke, WW2 People’s War (2)

CONVOY SURVIVOR REMEMBERS

“The attacks were terrifying; I cannot think of another word.  The worst for me were the Stukas; their sirens made the most appalling noise.  The sky was absolutely mottled with flak from the ships…nothing had ever been seen like it.  The destroyers too were simply remarkable.  To me, the worst sight of all was seeing Eagle go down, because you could see both planes and men sliding into the sea; you could actually hear the screams and yells…It was extremely frightening; no it was not frightening, it was terror, absolute terror.“  Survivor Frederick Treves, Junior Apprentice on Waimarama (3)

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 15 AUGUST 1942

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

Food for Malta unloaded from convoy c IWM GM 1478

1.  Four merchant vessels and one tanker arrived ex convoy from UK out of original 14 ships.  Only one of these unscathed.  Approx gross tonnage 47000 mixed cargoes essential foodstuffs, ammunition, black and white oils.  Supply situation will be considerably easier.  General relief at arrival though cost fully realised.  Two M/Vs and two D/Rs slipped away from here under cover of operation taking with them 44 German and 15 Italian from P of W cage.  Arrived Gibraltar safely.

2.  Army carrying out bulk of unloading operations as few naval personnel to assist.  Total 3000 men working in three shifts day and night with civilian assistance are unloading 5000 tons per day and dispersing to field dumps and near consignees.  Further 1500 men being provided assistance to RAF servicing, refuelling aircraft and ensuring maintenance aerodromes.  All available transport in use.  150 Royal Artillery personnel working smoke screen.  Operation proceeding satisfactorily.

3.  Other than attacks on convoy enemy air activity over Island has consisted of fighter sweeps only and slight night bombing.  Total of 32 night bombers, few of which crossed coast.  Total RAF claims 23 destroyed, three probables, ten damaged, including three destroyed by night fighters.  Ack Ack no claims and few engagements.  RAF offensive against Sardinian and Sicilian aerodromes to protect convoy also providing permanent umbrella.  Further reinforcement of Spitfires arrived.

4.  Military casualties nil except six Other Ranks wounded on convoy.  Reinforcement 31 all ranks details arrived on convoy, also 90 carrier pigeons.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 15 AUGUST TO DAWN 16 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10 to 15 miles.

Day  Spitfires keep up a standing patrol over Grand Harbour.

0530-0655 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol over convoy ships: no sightings.

0555-0700 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol over convoy ships: no sightings.

0620-0730 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept possible enemy raiders: no sightings.  Sgt Ballantine runs into a stationary Spitfire on landing: both aircraft are damaged but he is unhurt.

0623-0725 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron on convoy patrol: no sightings.

0643-0816 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far patrol over the incoming tanker until it arrives in Grand Harbour.

Ohio discharges her cargo (NWMA Malta)

0755 hrs After an epic struggle by her gallant Master and escorts, SS Ohio in tow of Penn and Bramham enters Grand Harbour followed by Ledbury. The sweepers and motor launches enter Marsamxett.

0905-0920 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron are airborne to intercept enemy aircraft.  Capt Swales and Sgt Tarbuck together destroy one ME 109.  Sgt Tarbuck’s Spitfire has airscrew trouble and he is forced to bale out but is picked up unhurt by the High Speed Launch.

0955-1025 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

1100-1205 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron on patrol: no sightings.

PM  Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far carry out three patrols over shipping in Grand harbour.

1445-1545 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept possible enemy raiders; four return early.  Lt Hetherington sees one ME 109 streaming glycol but does not make contact.

1535-1540 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron on intercept patrol see two enemy aircraft but cannot make contact.

1800 hrs  Force X and Force Z arrive at GibraltarThe damaged ships of Force Z, sent home earlier in the operation, also all reached Gibraltar safely except the destroyer Foresight which had to be sunk by Tartar who had tried to tow her in.

1910-2015 hrs  Four JU 88s are reported nearby, escorting an enemy ship.  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but visibility is poor and they do not locate the enemy.

1935-2020 hrs  Two Spitfires 229 Squadron on patrol: no sightings.

2230-2235 hrs  Air raid alert for one enemy aircraft which drops bombs in the sea before receding.

Military casualties  Gunner Carmel Grech, Royal Malta Artillery; Gunner Frederick Hornsey, 12 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Zurrieq  Pauline Grech, age 46.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 15 AUGUST 1942

HMS Utmost

ROYAL NAVY  A smoke screen was developed over the Dockyard on two occasions for large formations of aircraft, but no bombs were dropped.  Utmost and P 46 arrived from Gibraltar to join Tenth Submarine Flotilla, the former having obtained one torpedo hit on an Italian AMC off Marittimo.  After dark the presence of E Boats was suspected and fire was opened by shore batteries on one occasion, but no results observed.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Hudsons from Gibraltar; one DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Spitfire to LG 224; two DC3 to Bilbeis.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot rescued uninjured.

HAL FAR  One special Swordfish and two Albacores from Hal Far are despatched on a shipping strike off the west coast of Sicily.  Weather conditions are very bad and they sight nothing.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 2.  Dealt with: nil.  BD Sections manpower on convoy and transport duties except for party standing by to deal with unexploded bombs Grand Harbour.  Also dealt with week ending 15 August: 62 anti-personnel bombs.

(1) E N Syfret, Vice-Admiral, Flag Officer Commanding, Operation Pedestal

(2)  ‘WW2 People’s War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar’  INSERT LINK!!!!!

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

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14 August 1942: 3000 Men Unload Convoy

MALTA WAR DIARY: OPERATION PEDESTAL – SANTA MARIJA – DAY BY DAY

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OPERATION CERES UNDERWAY

Operation Ceres underway c IWM GM1475

3000 army personnel are now working night and day to unload the supplies delivered by the newly-arrived convoy.  All possible vehicles are engaged in the task, code-named ‘Operation Ceres’.  In addition, 1500 army personnel are still working on the aerodromes for servicing and refuelling aircraft, and repairing runways as required to keep Malta’s fighters in the air and protect the precious cargoes.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 14 AUGUST TO DAWN 15 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

Dawn  Having spent the night in futile attempts to tow Ohio, Bramham, Penn and Rye are joined by Ledbury.  Further attempts to tow the sinking tanker are more successful, albeit very slow.  The ‘cortege’ is joined later by Speedy and two Motor Launches from Malta.

AM Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled on five occasions to patrol over the incoming shipping.  No enemy activity encountered.

0545-0650 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali on convoy patrol fly near to Linosa and see a tanker which opens fire on them: no damage.

0625-0750 hrs  Three Spitfires 229 Squadron on convoy patrol: no enemy aircraft sighted.

0630 hrs  ML 168 arrives in Malta with 68 convoy survivors on board.

0700-0825 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on shipping patrol: no enemy aircraft sighted.

0740-0845 hrs; 0805-0940 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron at a time on shipping patrol: nothing to report.

Ohio inched towards Malta

0830 hrs  Commander minesweepers reports sweepers in company with Bramham and Penn, with tanker Ohio in tow, very deep in the water and almost unmanageable.

0850-0905 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

0912-1300 hrs  A long series of almost constant air attacks on Force X by dive bombers, high level bombers, torpedo bombers and dropping of mines or circling torpedoes by low-flying aircraft.  JU 88s bombers near-miss HMS Kenya, causing a small fire in a boiler room.

0925-1100 hrs  Eight Spitfires 229 Squadron are airborne: four to act as cover for the oil tanker Ohio and escort, the remainder as cover for a merchant vessel; nothing to report.

1000-1125 hrs  Spitfires from Ta Qali patrol over the convoy.  F/Lt Swannick sights a JU 87 diving on the ships.  He fires a 2-3 second burst from 100 yards and sees hits on the starboard wing: claims damaged.

1120-1250 hrs; 1145-1320 hrs; 1210-1340 hrs  Four Spitfires 229/249 Squadrons airborne at a time on convoy patrol: nothing to report.

PM  Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled on four occasions to patrol over the incoming tanker and naval escort: no enemy activity.

1225-1345 hrs; 1340-1440 hrs  Four Spitfires 229/249 Squadrons airborne at a time to provide cover to a merchant vessel: nothing to report.

Damaged Brisbane Star in Grand Harbour

1415 hrs   MV Brisbane Star arrives in Grand Harbour, holed in her bows.

1450-1625 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne to act as escort covering the approach of the tanker Ohio.  One float plane and two fighters attack suspected raiders: no strikes are seen but target aircraft were later identified as friendly.  No warning had been issued by Fighter Control and the attacked aircraft did not give any warning that they were friendly until after they had been fired on.

1455-1610 hrs  Three Spitfires 249 Squadron escorting Ohio are diverted to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  F/Sgt Parks sees one unidentified aircraft which he describes as twin-engined with a white upper surface and presumes is friendly.

1530-1550 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching enemy aircraft.  Twelve Spitfires 229 Squadron are scrambled to intercept: no sightings.

1550-1705 hrs;1725-1905 hrs; 1750-1925 hrs  Four Spitfires 229/249 Squadron at a time patrol over the tanker: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1800 hrs  Force X escapes the attacks unscathed joins Force Z: together they head for Gibraltar.

1820-1910 hrs  Air raid alert.  Twelve Spitfires are scrambled to intercept and sight six fighters but do not intercept.  Five minutes later three ME 109s appear and dive on Spitfires.  Sgt Hogarth is attacked from behind and bales out: he lands in the sea three miles off Zonqor and is rescued by HSL 128.  F/Sgt Hiskins scores cannon strikes on one ME 109 at 100 yards.  The Messerschmitt is last seen diving towards Grand Harbour, streaming black smoke.

1830-2035 hrs  One Albacore from Hal Far carries out an anti-submarine patrol over the incoming tanker.

Ohio supported by Penn and Ledbury

1840 hrs  Ohio and the ships assisting her are within sight of Dingli.  In spite of frequent air attacks, during one of which the tow was parted by a bomb, and the great difficulty experienced in towing, slow but steady progress is bringing the tanker closer to Grand Harbour.

1915-2015 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron patrol over the tanker but are diverted several times to intercept enemy aircraft. Two aircraft return early.

2030-0040 hrs  One Swordfish from Hal FAr carries out an anti-submarine patrol over the incoming tanker.

2035-2110 hrs; 2205-2325 hrs  Air raid alert.

Night  After dark the presence of E-Boats was suspected and fire was opened by shore batteries on one occasion, but no results observed.

A total of seven enemy aircraft approach the coast.  Only two cross the coast, both of which are shot down by Malta night fighters: no bombs are dropped on land.  Bingemma Fort fires four rounds at a shipping plot 1000 yards west of Bingemma Battery.  Forts Madalena and Leonardo engage a shipping plot 12000 yards north east of St Elmo.  Four rounds are fired.  Searchlights expose but nothing is seen.

Military casualties  Nil.

Operation Pedestal casualties  CLICK HERE

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 14 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  On reports of surface plots Coast Artillery Searchlight sweeps were carried out and star shell fired, but no enemy craft were sighted.

Brisbane Star entered Grand Harbour at 1430 hrs and Hythe and Hebe rejoined Commander M/S.  Continuous cover was given by fighter aircraft during the day, and together with the anti-aircraft protection afforded by the sweepers, succeeded in preventing the enemy from accomplishing his task of sinking Ohio and Brisbane Star.

Robust

Tug Robust was escorted to Marsaxlokk by Beryl and Swona to stand by to assist with towing and was reported later to be towing ahead of Ohio. She proved, however, to be unsuitable for such a heavy tow and after bumping Penn and damaging her, she was not employed any more.  Flag Officer Commanding North Atlantic reported safe arrival of Force “Y”.  Fire was opened twice during the night on the information of RDF plots and it is considered that on each of these occasions E boats were driven off. The sound of engines was also heard and searchlights were switched on, but no targets were illuminated.

Since 0900 on 12th August, nine enemy aircraft were shot down by ships’ fire with eight probably and three possibly destroyed. The merchant vessels’ own anti-aircraft guns accounted for four of those definitely destroyed.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufort from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Hudsons to Gibraltar; two Wellingtons, one Spitfire to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down: pilot baled out uninjured.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 3.  Dealt with: 2 High Explosives (1 x 250kg; 1 x 50kg).

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13 August 1942: Operation Pedestal Merchant Ships Reach Grand Harbour

MALTA WAR DIARY: OPERATION PEDESTAL – SANTA MARIJA – DAILY DIARY                         

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RAF FLY 179 SORTIES TO PROTECT PEDESTAL

“Cheerio, good luck, baling out – port engine on fire.”  These were the last words of Beaufighter pilot David Jay to his crewman Sergeant McFarlane this morning, before their aircraft plunged into the Mediterranean.  Pilot Officer Jay, a New Yorker who volunteered for the Royal Canadian Air Force, was flying one of five RAF Beaufighters of 248 Squadron which took off frm Malta this morning to provide vital air cover for the approaching convoy.

Beaufighter takes off from Luqa

They ran into a fierce battle as the Stuka bombers and fighters attacked, countered by heavy anti-aircraft fire from the convoy ships.  Several ME 109s turned from the convoy to chase the Beaufighters.  Moments later, Pilot Officer Jay was overheard by another aircraft saying his farewell to Sgt McFarlane, who was heard to answer him before their radio fell silent.  Both were reported missing.

Wellington bombers were also engaged in bombing missions today over enemy aerodromes used as bases for attacks on the convoy.   One Wellington making its second attack on Comiso was damaged by flak.  The aircraft made it back to Malta but crashed near Luqa, killing the Wireless Operator/Air Gunner Sergeant Harry Fox.  Pilot P/O Shepherd and three other crew members (Sgt Langley, Sgt Maslin, and Sgt Thompson) were injured in the crash but survived.

Beaufighters and Spitfires flew 179 sorties and 46 patrols today, providing constant cover for the convoy.  14 enemy aircraft were destroyed, with three probables and nine damaged, for the loss of one Beaufighter and four Spitfires from Malta.  Two of the Spitfire pilots are confirmed safe.

Rear-Admiral Commanding, 10th Cruiser Squadron reported that, especially given they had no direction aid from Force X, he considered the fighters performed “a magnificent job of work throughout the day”.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 13 AUGUST TO DAWN 14 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

SS Waimarama explodes

Dawn  The convoy is some 50 miles behind schedule but is now close enough to come under the protection of Malta’s Beaufighters and long-range Spitfires.  HMS Ashanti, flagship of Rear-Admiral Burrough, Commander, 10th Cruiser Squadron is leading the protective force of HM Ships Kenya, Charybdis, Intrepid, Icarus, Fury, Eskimo and Somali, covering the merchant ships Melbourne Star, Clan Ferguson and Rochester Castle.  HMS Ledbury is five miles astern escorting the damaged SS OhioSS Dorset is afloat and underway but is detached from the convoy and unescorted.  SS Port Chalmers, escorted by HMS Pathfinder and HMS Bramham is ten miles off with HMS Penn beyond standing by SS Waimarama, which is on fire. SS Brisbane Star has spent the night close to the Tunisian coast.  The ship is boarded by the French authorities who are persuaded to treat the crew fairly.

0505-0910 hrs  One Beaufighter 248 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol to cover the convoy sights one JU 88 and several ME 109s; no combat.

0527-0835 hrs  Four Beaufighters 248 Squadron are dispatched on convoy patrol; one does not get airborne and is damaged.  W/Cdr Pike attempts to intercept a JU 88 but is counter-attacked by several ME 109s.  One bullet hits his Beaufighter in the stern; the crew is uninjured.  W/Cdr Pike does not return fire.

0639-0726 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far on patrol over Malta: no sightings.

0712 hrs  Rear-Admiral Burrough orders HM Ships Eskimo and Somali to return and stand by HMS Manchester.  On their way to do so they picked up survivors of SS Almeria Lykes and Wairangi.

0730 hrs  Five Beaufighters 248 Squadron are dispatched on protective patrol over the convoy.

0810-0900 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol over Malta: no sightings.

Ohio deck after collision with JU 87 c IWM GM1469

0810 hrs  JU 88s carry out a dive-bombing attack on the convoy, concentrating on SS Clan Ferguson, which receives a direct hit and blows up.  HMS Charybdis reports seeing two aircraft dive on the merchantman and only one coming, the other is presumed destroyed in the explosion.  Ledbury rescues 45 of her crew.

0925 hrs  Ju 87 dive-bombers attack, while Italian aircraft lay parachute mines ahead around the convoy.  The Stukas target Ohio which has rejoined the convoy.  The tanker suffers several near-misses: her steering gear is disabled but her guns shoot down one JU 87 which collides with the ship.  Port Chalmers is set on fire but continues underway.

The Beaufighters of 248 Squadron approach the convoy as enemy bombers and fighters attack, countered by heavy anti-aircraft fire from the ships.  Several ME 109s over the convoy chase the Beaufighters.  Pilot P/O Jay his crew Sgt McFarlane are reported missing.

Dorset under air attack c IWM GMA11173

0941 hrs  HMS Kenya is attacked by dive-bombers and suffers near-misses.

1017 hrs; 1050 hrs  Two more dive-bombing and minelaying attacks bring more near-misses for Ohio and for SS Dorset.  HM Ships Penn, Ledbury and Bramham stand by as protection for the two ships.

1020-1135 hrs  Four Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are dispatched to patrol over the convoy.  They sight two Junkers bombers: the first has not dropped its bombs and is chased away by a Spitfire.  The second has dropped its bombs when F/Lt Northcott attacks, firing from 400 yards down to point-blank range: he observes masses of strikes.  F/Lt McRuder fires at the same aircraft and also observes many strikes: the aircraft is ‘probably destroyed’.  P/O Barbour fires but does not see the results due to oil on his windscreen.  The Spitfire pilots note that the JU 88 had unusual bottle-green camouflage and no crosses could be seen.

1120 hrs  Italian torpedo bombers attack the convoy, dropping torpedoes too wide of the ships to cause damage.  Ships’ companies observe Malta Beaufighters and Spitfires engaging the enemy and shooting down at least four enemy aircraft.  The convoy has now reached the range of Malta’s main Spitfire forces and the enemy stays clear.

1130-1230 hrs; 1145-1245 hrs; 1200-1315 hrs; 1230-1340 hrs; 1245-1304 hrs; 1335-1450 hrs  Groups of four Spitfires 229 and 249 Squadrons Ta Qali patrol over the convoy: no enemy aircraft sighted.  Through the afternoon Spitfires of 185 Squadron are also scrambled in sections of four on fifteen occasions to provide cover for the incoming convoy.  No enemy aircraft are encountered.  One Spitfire crashes on take-off, writing off the aircraft and badly injuring the pilot, Sgt Chewley.

1350-1515 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol over the convoy.  F/Lt Watts gets in a three-second burst on an enemy bomber and sees strikes on the port wing (claims damaged).

1400-1510 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on convoy duties.  F/Sgt Parkes’ engine blows up; he bales out and is picked up, unhurt, by the naval launch.

1420-1520 hrs; 1440-1610 hrs; 1500-1605 hrs  Groups of four Spitfires 229 and 249 Squadrons patrol over the convoy: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1500 hrs  17th Minesweeping Flotilla and 3rd Motor Launch Flotilla sail from Malta and carry out a sweep of searched channel, with orders to rendezvous with the convoy Force X and take over the escort of merchant vessels.

1550-1710 hrs  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron patrol over the Island: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1600 hrs  Dingli monitors sight three merchant ships escorted by two minesweepers.

1600 hrs  Force X makes rendezvous with the Malta minesweeping forces.  SS Port Chalmers, Melbourne Star and Rochester Castle are turned over to the local escort, under the Senior Officer, Minesweepers, aboard HMS Speedy.  HM Ships Penn, Bramham and Ledbury remain with the damaged SS Ohio and Dorset while the remainder of Force X withdraws to the west.

Rochester Castle enters Grand Harbour c IWM GM1430

1630-1750 hrs; 1810-1920 hrs  Groups of four Spitfires 229 and 249 Squadrons patrol over the convoy: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1740-1910 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol sight one JU 88.  P/O Jones fires and is sure his aim is accurate but cannot see strikes due to dazzle from the enemy cockpit.  Sgt Wynn fires twice, seeing strikes both times.  Sgt Beurling fires; the starboard engine catches fire and pieces fly off.  The bomber dives into the sea (destroyed).

1810-1935 hrs; 1815-1935 hrs  Four and then eight Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol see no enemy aircraft.

1815 hrs  Rochester Castle enters Grand Harbour, followed by Melbourne Star and Port Chalmers.  Two Motor Launches land the wounded at Sliema and then proceeded with 17th Minesweeping Flotilla to assist Dorset and Ohio.

1945-1950 hrs; 2225-2235 hrs; 2345-2355 hrs  Air raid alerts for a total of 6 enemy aircraft of which only 3 cross the coast: all bombs are dropped in the sea.

2014 hrs  Ohio and Dorset are attacked again.  Dorset is set on fire and she sinks.

2030 hrs  Force X departs for Gibraltar leaving orders for Bramham, Ledbury and Penn to rendezvous later.

Crowds cheer the arrival of SS Port Chalmers c IWM GM1426

2100 hrs  Rye reports that she is assisting Penn to tow Ohio with 2 Motor Launches as A/S screen.  A vessel south of Lampedusa is considered to be the Brisbane Star.  Hythe, Hebe, and 2 Motor Launches are despatched to rendezvous with her at 0800 hrs on 14th.

0130 hrs  Force X is attacked by E-Boats off Cape Bon.  The ships engage and one is blown up.

0450 hrs  A U-boat attacks Force X off Fratelli Rock, just missing HMS Ashanti.  HMS Kenya attempts to ram the submarine without success.

Military casualties  Flight Sergeant Robert Buntine, Royal Australian Air Force; Sergeant Harry Fox, Royal Australian Air Force; Pilot Officer David Jay, Royal Canadian Air Force; Flight Sergeant John Tanner, Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Operation Pedestal casualties  CLICK HERE

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 13 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  See above.

AIR HQ Arrivals  One Hudson, one Spitfire, four Beaufighters from Gibraltar; one DC3 from Bilbeis, two Baltimores from LG 98.  Departures  Two Liberators to Fayid; one Hudson to Gibraltar; one DC3 to Bilbeis; two Spitfires to LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Wellington overshot the aerodrome and crashed: Wireless Operator/Air Gunner killed; rest of crew injured.  One Beaufighter failed to return from patrol: crew missing.  One Spitfire crashed on the aerodrome: pilot injured.  One Spitfire crashed in the sea through enemy action: pilot injured.  Two Spitfires believed shot down by enemy action: pilots missing.

LUQA  Intensive activity surrounding inbound convoy.  Station strength has gone up to 2783.  All entertainment is stopped; the cinema is used for accommodation which is very cramped – not enough beds, airmen sleeping with only two blankets.

TA QALI  Extensive operations: 32 Spitfires and 16 Beaufighters attacked enemy aerodromes and provided cover to the convoy.  1200 gallons of petrol were used in one day.  All ranks worked from dawn to dusk and through the night, servicing aircraft to enable the operation to proceed.

W/Cdr Wyatt was observing a Beaufighter taking off from his car when the aircraft failed to lift and turned to make another attempt.  In the dark, the pilot did not see W/Cdr Wyatt’s car and the aircraft swung into the side of the vehicle, the Beaufighter’s propeller ripping open the side of the car.  W/Cdr Wyatt escaped with slight injuries but was admitted to hospital.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 6.  Dealt with: 5 High Explosives, including 1 delayed-action (3 x 250kg; 2 x 50kg).

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12 August 1942: Convoy Attacked by Bombers, Fighters and Submarines

MALTA WAR DIARY: OPERATION PEDESTAL – SANTA MARIJA – DAILY EVENTS ON MALTAGC70                                                                                                                                    

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AIR RAIDS DAWN 12 AUGUST TO DAWN 13 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.  A beautiful sunny day, with calm seas.

0530 hrs  Radar reports of enemy snoopers start to come in at first light and all ships go to the first degree of readiness.

0600 hrs  Cruising Disposition No 17 is formed.

0610 hrs  Air defence begins for the convoy. Twelve fighters are flown off in a constant air patrol to be maintained all day, reinforced as necessary.

0741 hrs  HMS Kenya spots torpedo tracks and turns, avoiding three torpedoes.

Convoy barrage deters enemy

0907 hrs  Air raid: 19 JU 88s are reported approaching at high level.  The bombers come in over the fleet from right ahead, drop their bombs and are away in about six minutes. Two JU 88s are shot down and a third retires to the south’ard on fire fore and aft and losing height.  16 convoy fighters also engage, shooting down eight destroyed, three probable and two damaged.  No damage was done to any ship; one convoy fighter is lost.

An Italian SM79 shadowing the convoy is shot down by two Fulmars from 884 Squadron soon afterwards. Other snoopers keep trying to probe the defences but are deterred by volleys from the destroyers main guns.

0920 hrs  Laforey attacks a submarine which dives to escape; Fury detects her 12 minutes later and along with Foresight hunts her down, dropping several depth-charges. The Italian Submarine, Brin, evades the destroyers and escapes.

0940 hrs  Captain (D), 19th Destroyer Flotilla orders all destroyers to rejoin the convoy, as the U-Boat, is no longer a danger to the convoy.

0800 hrs  Sub-depot parties standing by in Malta, ready for the convoy.

0930-1055 hrs  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are scrambled.  P/O Ogilvie destroys one Heinkel 111 sixty miles east of the Island – the Squadron’s 100th victory.

1135-1150 hrs  Pathfinder confirms an asdic contact and attacks heavily, assisted in the hunt by Zetland.  Both ships lose contact and rejoin the convoy.

Savoia-Marchetti SM 84

1210 hrs  Ashanti reports at least nine enemy raiders approaching from ahead.  Fighters intercept, shooting down one aircraft, the smoke of which can be seen from the fleet.  Cruisers and destroyers in the van open fire: one aircraft probably destroyed.  10 SM 84 bombers drop motorised mines in the path of the convoy while Fiat Falcos mount a diversionary attack to divert destroyers’ fire: a few drop small bombs. The convoy executes an emergency turn of 90 degrees to port to avoid the mines: no damage to any ships.

Another wave of 33 SM 79s and 10 SM 84s approaches in formations of five or six some armed as torpedo-bombers, with a fighter escort of Re 2001s.  A few SM 79s head for Nelson but all torpedoes are dropped well away from the convoy before they withdraw.  One torpedo-bomber is shot down by ships’ fire.

1230-1240 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on patrol; they sight only friendly aircraft.

Nelson’s guns fire back

1300 hrs  A third wave of 37 JU 88 bombers arrives in small groups at 10-15000 feet, too high for Hurricanes to intercept.  Eight Fulmars do engage.  The JU 88s dive-bombe the convoy and also drop canisters with small black parachutes.  Nelson, Rodney, Cairo and several MT ships suffer very near misses. A stick of bombs falls around Deucalion; one pierces the ship but fails to explode; two are near-misses but the explosion of one damages the ship, reducing her speed. No 1 hold is half flooded and No 2 completely flooded.  Bramham is detailed to stand by her and then to escort her via the coastal route to Malta.  Convoy fighters pursue the enemy: one JU 88 is probably destroyed by gunfire and several damaged.  Lt R Johnson of 806 Squadron is lost.

1345 hrs  Two Italian Re2001 fighter-bombers dive on Victorious dropping 100lb bombs, killing six men and wounding two.  One glances off the flight deck without exploding.  The attackers fly low over the convoy and are taken for returning friendly fighters, so get away unscathed.  Tartar reports a submarine and attacks with depth charges.

1417 hrs Zetland reports a submarine on the surface on the horizon and is seen to alter course and steam south at high speed, before being ordered back to her station as the submarine is not a danger to the convoy.  The information is passed to Bramham who is near the location with Deucalion.  After several more reports of submarine sightings and asdic contacts, convoy commander Syfret orders destroyers on the convoy flanks to release depth-charges on each side of the screen every ten minutes between 1400 and 1900.

1616-1641 hrs  Pathfinder reports a confirmed asdic contact which she heavily attacks twice in quick succession.  Zetland joins Pathfinder and remains until the contact is no longer a danger.

1640 hrs  Tartar reports “torpedo in sight starboard” and immediately counter-attacks.  A few minutes later Lookout, astern of Tartar, reports a submarine in sight.  Both ships make two attacks, hunting the U-Boat until she is no longer a threat.

HMS Ithuriel comes in to ram Cobalto c IWM A11411

1649 hrs Ithuriel sights a periscope and part of a conning tower on her starboard bow and immediately attacks.  She obtains contact at 900 yards and counter-attacks with asdics.  The attack brings the U-Boat to the surface and Ithuriel opens fire, turns and finally rams it.  The Italian U-Boat Cobalto sinks: three officers (including the Captain) and 38 ratings are taken prisoner.

1717-1747 hrs; 1754-1832 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron at a time on patrol: nothing sighted.

1726 hrs  Syfret orders Wilton to replace Bramham in Force X.  Reports are coming in of small formations of enemy aircraft are coming in and expected to make an air attack on a considerable scale.

Survivors from Cobalto on board Ithuriel c IWM A11414

1749 hrs  Ithuriel, still at a distance after picking up prisoners from Cobalto, is attacked by four JU 88s and one CR 42 fighter-bomber.  She is undamaged but her speed has been reduced to 20 knots by the ramming and her A/S is out of action.

1757-2225 hrs  Six Beaufighters 248 Squadron take off from Ta Qali to act as fighter escort to the incoming convoy.

1800 hrs  The convoy alters course to pass through the Skerki Channel.

1813 hrs  Syfret informs the convoy that Force Z will turn to the westward at 1915 hrs.

1830 hrs  The first formation of enemy aircraft is sighted; reports suggest 100-120 enemy raiders, many of them fighters.  Against them the convoy had 22 fighters in the air, who continually harass and break up the incoming enemy formations.

1835 hrs  The first attack by 13 torpedo bombers as well as an unknown number of high level bombers, dive bombers and minelaying aircraft.  The convoy makes an emergency turn to avoid the mines and torpedoes.  40 more torpedo bombers are reported ahead.  They are followed in by a formation of twelve Stukas which attack Indomitable, who is quickly obscured by splashes and smoke from two large fires.  One bomb hits the forward AA gun positions, killing more than twenty of the Royal Marines detachment. Another lands near the forward lift, penetrates the upper gallery deck and explodes above the main hangar deck. The wardroom, crowded with off-duty pilots and observers, is wrecked by a bomb, killing all the occupants. In all 50 men are killed and 59 wounded.  Victorious is now the only aircraft carrier with a useable flight deck.

Indomitable hit; Charybdis stands by

Italian SM 79s attack Foresight: a torpedo hits the stern, breaking her back and bringing the ship to a halt.  There are many near misses across the convoy but no other ships are damaged.  Tartar goes to Foresight’s assistance and subsequently took her in tow.  Indomitables fighters destroy nine enemy aircraft, plus two probables and one damaged, for the loss of two fighters; one pilot is saved.  One JU 87 is probably shot down by ships’ gunfire.

1855 hrs  With the damage to Indomitable Syfret orders Force Z to turn about immediately, 20 minutes sooner than planned, leaving Force X to head on for Malta.

1927 hrs  Indomitable reports that fires are under control and she can steam 17 knots.  Her steering gear becomes temporarily disabled but soon after 2030 hrs she is up to 28½ knots.

1910-2220 hrs  Three Beaufighters 248 Squadron take off from Ta Qali on a mission to attack Pantelleria aerodrome.  They fire several bursts at aerodrome on the ground: a fire is seen on the west of the aerodrome but it is too dark to see other results.

1955-2020 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne on patrol: nothing to report.

1956 hrs  Italian submarine Axum inflicts the first serious damage on the convoy, firing four torpedoes.  Cruiser Nigeria is hit on the port side, flooding and listing to port.  Two torpedoes strike the cruiser Cairo, destroying her stern and disabling engines.SS Brisbane Star is also hit but not badly damaged.  The tanker Ohio is hit in the pump room; the ship is torn open and the main steering disabled; kerosene tanks burst into flames.

2010 hrs  The Navy flashes that there are enemy aircraft overhead.  Explosions are seen near the convoy ships and a large vessel is hit and begins to smoke heavily.  VHF contact is lost and the Beaufighters are fired on by convoy ships.

Nigeria stopped and on fire

2015 hrs  Nigeria is under control and is stopped to transfer Rear-Admiral Commanding, 10th Cruiser Squadron and his staff to HMS Ashanti.  The ship is soon able to proceed at 14 knots and heads for Gibraltar, with HM Ships Bicester, Wilton and Derwent as escort.  Cairo has to be sunk as soon as survivors have been taken off.  The loss of Nigeria and Cairo leaves the convoy with no fighter-direction equipment.  The convoy is scattered and in disarray.  Rear-Admiral Commanding, 10th Cruiser Squadron in HMS Ashanti proceeds to direct the convoy.  Ashanti and Penn put up a smoke screen against the western horizon to protect the convoy from an impending air attack.

Three Beaufighters of 252 and three of 248 Squadron Malta are despatched to carry out a dusk machine-gun and cannon attack on Pantelleria.  Only three aircraft find the aerodrome; starting a fire in the west corner.  A Wellington reconnaissance plane reports six separate fires burning on the aerodrome.

2038 hrs  25 minutes after sunset, a severe dive bomber and torpedo bomber air attack is launched on the convoy.  30 JU 88s and seven Heinkel torpedo-bombers escorted by six ME 110s attack from the north west, targeting the merchantmen.  Brisbane Star is hit by a torpedo which blows a hole in both sides; she takes on water.  Her master decides to keep inshore until morning.

2050 hrs  Having suffered 18 near-misses, Empire Hope receives two direct hits on No 4 hold: ammunition and aviation fuel explode and her stern is on fire; her engines stop.  The order is given to abandon ship and her survivors picked up by Penn before she is sunk.  Glenorchy is bombed and explodes, with few survivors.

2102 hrs  Clan Ferguson is hit by an aerial torpedo and blows up with her load of 2000 tons of aviation petrol and 1500 tons of explosives. 96 survivors reach the Tunisian coast where they are interned by the French.

HMS Kenya

2112 hrs  The Italian submarine Alagi fires four torpedoes at Kenya which avoids all except one which strikes her on the forefoot.  She is able to make 25 knots and remain with the convoy.  Eleven merchant ships are still underway but only three or four are in visual touch with HM Ships Manchester, Kenya and Ashanti behind, while three destroyers are ahead. Syfret hears of the attacks on Force X and sends Charybdis, Somali and Eskimo as reinforcements.

2130 hrs  Two torpedo bombers attack SS Deucalion out of the shadows near the Cani Rocks, where she had been proceeding separately with HMS BramhamDeucalion‘s gunners fire back but one explosive hits the ship, which bursts into a mass of flames.  The order is given to abandon ship before she sinks.  Having picked up survivors, Bramham proceeded to overtake Force X.

2125-2130 hrs; 2215-2235 hrs; 2305-2340 hrs; 0105-0140 hrs  Air raid alerts.  Four enemy aircraft approach Malta singly: bombs are dropped on Gozo and in the sea.

Night  Two Malta-based Wellingtons locate and attack an enemy naval force comprising four cruisers and eight destroyers heading to intercept the convoy in the Ustica-Cape San Vito area, course west, speed 20 knots.  Eight 250lb bombs are dropped but are seen to overshoot: no hits claimed.  The cruiser force seems to alter course immediately after the bombing, as when a single Wellington makes a second run over the ships 20 minutes they are heading towards Palermo.  The Wellingtons make four runs in total over the cruisers, dropping flares each time.  Each time the ships split up and break formation.

One Wellington makes two bombing sorties on Comiso Aerodrome and reports three explosions on target.

0034 hrs  40 minutes after the leading ships of Force X pass Cape Bon, two E-Boats are detected by radar on the port beam and engaged by all ships.

0120 hrs Two Italian Motor Torpedo boats torpedo the cruiser Manchester.

Manchester’s rescued crew covered in oil

0140 hrs  HMS Pathfinder goes alongside Manchester and after discussion with the Captain embarks 150 of the ship’s company, proceeding under orders to join Rear-Admiral Commanding, 10th Cruiser Squadron.  The Commanding Officer, HMS Manchester decides to abandon and sink his ship, the last of the ship’s company leaving at 0245 hrs.

0222-0634 hrs  Two Albacores and one Swordfish of NAS, Malta are sent out to attack enemy cruisers between Pantelleria and Sicily.  They are unable to locate the targets.

0330 hrs  In further running fights with E-Boats three merchant ships, Santa Elisa, Almeria Lykes and Wairangi, are also hit.  SS Wairangi is hit in the engine room and SS Almeria Lykes before No 1 hold.  Both ships are abandoned and their crews picked up some hours later by HM Ships Eskimo and Somali.  Neither ship is seen to sink though both are reported as left in a sinking condition.  SS Santa Elisa is sunk later in a bombing attack.  Only Rochester Castle is hit right forward but survives to rejoin the convoy.  At least one and possibly two E-Boats were destroyed in counter-attacks.

0500 hrs  It is decided to scuttle Manchester which is seen to sink.  Most of her survivors reaching the Tunisian coast and internment.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                                    Civilian casualties  Nil.

Operation Pedestal casualties  CLICK HERE

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 12 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  PRU Spitfire reported that the Italian Naval force had left Messina.  Hythe swept P35 into Marsamxett.  At 1730 Rye sailed to lay navigational marks, and P43 proceeded on patrol.

AIR HQ  Reconnaissance photographs showed three aircraft burned out at Decimomannu aerodrome and one at Elmas.  Three Beaufighters of 252 and three of 248 Squadron were despatched to carry out a dusk machine-gun and cannon attack on Pantelleria.  Only three aircraft found the aerodrome; started a fire in the west corner but later a Wellington reconnaissance plane reported six separate fires burning on the aerodrome.  One Liberator and one Wellington also attacked Pantelleria aerodrome; results unobserved.

Arrivals  Two Hudsons, three Spitfires, two Beauforts, one Hudson from Gibraltar; one Liberator from Shallufa; three Baltimores from LG 98.  Departures  Two Hudsons to Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufighter force-lands; crew uninjured.  One Maryland’s hydraulic system fails; crew uninjured.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 5. Dealt with: 2 High Explosives (1 x 500kg; 1 x 250kg)

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11 August 1942: Axis Air Forces Massing in the Med

MALTA WAR DIARY: OPERATION PEDESTAL – SANTA MARIJA – DAILY EVENTS ON MALTAGC70  

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Heinkel HE 111

TORPEDO BOMBERS JOIN ENEMY FIGHTING FORCE 

Malta photo-reconnaissance pilots are reporting large concentrations of torpedo-carrying aircraft at Cagliari, Decimomannu and Pantelleria, accompanied by a corresponding number of fighters.  An unusual number of E Boats and MAS have also appeared in Trapani and Pantelleria.  They also report a significant increase in German aircraft, including 30 JU 88s, 20 Heinkel IIIs and their transports, JU 52s, a Gotha 242 and three DFS 230 gliders.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 11 AUGUST TO DAWN 12 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

     0620 hrs  An enemy aircraft reports sighting of the Malta convoy.

     0645 hrs  Ashanti, Ledbury, Zetland, Wilton, Bramham, Bicester, Foresight and Derwent commence fuelling off Gibraltar.

     0732 hrs  Vice-Admiral Commanding, North Atlantic warns convoy commander Vice Admiral Syfret that German reconnaissance aircraft are active in the Western Mediterranean.

Convoy aircraft carriers

 

0800 hrs  Coltsfoot, one of the corvettes screening the refuelling operation, reports that two torpedoes have been observed position 37 degrees 56 mins north, 1 degree 40 mins east.

0815 hrs  Radar contact alerts the convoy to the presence of enemy reconnaissance aircraft.  Two sections of four fighters from the convoy take to the air and patrol in turn throughout the day. Enemy JU 88s are flying at 20,000 feet or more, making it difficult to intercept.

0839 hrs  German submarine Uarsciek which has been shadowing the convoy overnight surfaces sends a radio signal to Rome.

1015-1105 hrs  Air raid alert for 21 enemy fighters approaching Malta.  Eight Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far and eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled: they sight enemy fighters but make no contact.

        1055 hrs  A message informs Syfret that a report of the convoy has been broadcast by Rome to “all units and stations”.

        1128 hrs  Nelson and Charybdis report probable torpedo discharges, at about 3 miles.

        1218 hrs  Aircraft carrier Furious, screened by Lightning and Lookout moves out to the port quarter of the convoy for Operation ‘Bellows’  –       the delivery of Spitfires to Malta.

        1229 hrs  Two flights of eight Spitfires are flown off the carrier.

Eagle is hit

 

1315 hrs  Eagle is hit on the port side by four torpedoes, fired from German submarine U 73, all within an interval of about 10 seconds.  Her engine rooms are damaged and boiler rooms flooded.  Operation Bellows is suspended while Lookout and Laforey are ordered to stand by Eagle.  Tug Jaunty also proceeds immediately towards the stricken carrier.

1323 hrs  Eagle heels rapidly over to port and sinks.  Laforey, Lookout and Jaunty pick up 927 survivors of a crew of 1160.

1350-1410 hrs  Operation Bellows resumes and the rest of the 38 Spitfires are flown off Furious.  One has a defect and lands on Indomitable.

1410-1500 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

1420-1430 hrs  Enemy aircraft approach from the starboard beam and pass directly over the convoy at a great height but do not attack – believed to be photo-reconnaissance.  Eagle’s survivors are transferred to Keppel, Venomous and Malcolm.

1634 hrs  Syfret receives a message warning that the enemy will probably make a JU 88 attack at dusk.  The convoy is made ready to put up a screen of anti-aircraft fire.

1410-1500 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol: nothing sighted.

1515-1600 hrs  Seven Spitfires 229 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne to cover the arrival of Spitfires at Malta: no enemy aircraft are sighted.

1710-1805 hrs; 1746-1800 hrs  Four Spitfires 185 Squadron Hal Far are on patrol: nothing to report.  Seven delivery Spitfires arrive at Hal Far: one is slightly damaged on landing.  The air raid alert sounds, probably for friendly aircraft.

1810 hrs  36 Spitfires are reported to have landed safely in Malta.

1825-2350 hrs  Nine Beaufighters of 248 Squadron take off from Ta Qali, their mission to shoot up Elmas and Decimomannu aerodromes in Sardinia.  They carry out a low-flying attack; most of the aircraft exhaust their ammunition on widely dispersed aircraft.  At Elmas, one hangar and two multi-engined aircraft are set on fire and planes badly damaged.  At Decimomannu, two Liberators and two Wellingtons co-operate in the attack.  All bombs are seen to burst on the aerodrome.  Five multi-engined aircraft are set on fire, of which two explode, and several others are seriously damaged.  Fires could be seen from up to 20 miles away.  Some of the Beaufighters are hit by splinters but are still serviceable.

1700-2045 hrs  The convoy is continuously snooped by three or more enemy aircraft, closely monitored by the fleet’s own fighters.

1830 hrs  Transfer of survivors to Keppel, Venomous and Malcolm is achieved.  Operation Bellows completed, five destroyers form a screen for Furious to depart for Gibraltar.

1854 hrs  Syfret orders the Senior Officer of destroyers to station Hunt class destroyers close to the flanks of the convoy by sunset.  In the event of an attack, the screen is to increase distance from the convoy to 6000 yards.

2030 hrs  Syfret receives confirmation that Cairo and 24 destroyers have been refuelled.  Radar reports show that the air raid is approaching.

HMS Victorious

 

2056 hrs  15 minutes after sunset, 30 JU 88s and six Heinkel 111 torpedo-bombers attack.  Destroyers on the port bow begin firing, followed almost immediately by the cruisers and battleships, and deter the Heinkels.  The JU 88s dive from 8000 feet to 2-300 feet.  Two aim for Victorious dropping two bombs close to her stern but cause no damage; the carrier’s own guns shoot both down.  One JU 88 drops two bombs near the refuelling vessels, one of which falls between the oilers and the escort, another dives on Jaunty but she counter-attacks, damaging the bomber with Oerlikon fire.  The convoy barrage is very effective; at least three enemy aircraft are shot down by ships’ gunfire.  No damage was done to any ships.  During the raid, radar picks up evidence of some submarine activity and three depth charge attacks are made by Quentin.

The convoy’s fighters are airborne to intercept the attackers but are unable to engage them due to poor light.  Some friendly fighters attempting to return to their carriers are fired on by their own ships.

2300-2340 hrs; 0005-0045 hrs; 0155-0210 hrs  Air raid alerts for eight aircraft which approach Malta singly. Bombs are dropped on the Zabbar area.

Military casualties  Leading Air Fitter Peter Jones, HMS St.Angelo.

Operation Pedestal casualties CLICK HERE

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 11 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Hythe escorted P31 and P34 from Marsamxett to end of searched channel. Submarines then proceeded on patrol and Hythe anchored at Marsaxlokk.  A Baltimore on reconnaissance sighted Force Y 30 miles 090 degrees from Kuriat.The disposition of Italian Naval Units as ascertained by reconnaissance aircraft during the day was as follows: Taranto one Littorio and three Cavour battleships; Messina, two cruisers; Naples, one cruiser.  Otus sailed and proceeded to Gibraltar.

HMS Matchless

 

For Operation Pedestal Force Y, consisting of M/Vs Troilus and Orari escorted by Matchless and Badsworth sailed at 2030 hrs. Two Motor Launches escorted this force to a point one hour’s steaming from the end of the swept channel and then returned to Marsaxlokk where they anchored for the night.  Enemy warships were reported as having sailed from Cagliari at 2345 hrs, and to be steaming E at 25 knots.

AIR HQ  One Wellington attacked an enemy naval force consisting of two cruisers and two destroyers in position 295 degrees Cape San Vito, Sicily, 60 miles course 90 degrees, speed 20 knots.  Four 500lb bombs were dropped, straddling one cruiser.

Arrivals  Three Liberators, two Wellingtons from Shallufa; two Spitfires from Middle East; one Beaufort, two Marylands from LG 226; 37 Spitfires from Navy operation.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufighter suffers engine failure and crashes into the sea; crew uninjured.  One Spitfire pilot misjudges the runway; pilot uninjured.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 4.  Dealt with: 1 High Explosives, delayed-action (500kg).

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

 
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26 July-1 August 1942: Six Air Raid Warnings a Day

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26 July 1942: 188 Air Raid Alerts in July

Heading for shelter, South St Valletta (NWMA Malta)

AIR RAID STATISTICS – JULY 1942

  • Total number of air raid alerts  188
  • Raid-free days  Nil
  • Night raids  57
  • Raid-free nights  15
  • Alerts for own planes  17
  • Total time from air raid alert to raiders passed  3 days, 18 hrs, 3 mins
  • Average length of alert  27.7 mins

AIR RAIDS DAWN 26 JULY TO DAWN 27 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0920-0943 hrs  Air raid alert: three ME 109s cross the Island.

1030 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.

1038-1110 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven JU88s attack Ta Qali, dropping high explosive and anti-personnel bombs on the airfield.  High explosive bombs are dropped on the western dispersal area: one Spitfire is damaged by fire, three others by shrapnel.  Delayed-action bombs are dropped opposite Cave No 4, and between the main Rabat-Valletta road and the site of Chateau Bertrand.  Several anti-personnel bombs fall on Mosta.  Heavy Ack Ack fire: no claims.  Spitfires attack the bombers and twelve fighters after their raid: one Macchi 202 is damaged.

1405 hrs  Eight Spitfires are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft but do not see them.

1411-1445 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five JU88s with an escort of twenty fighters attack Hal Far from 18000 feet.  Heavy Ack Ack engage: no claims.

1600 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft; seven return early with engine trouble.  The remaining Spitfire makes no interceptions.

1651-1740 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven JU 88s with fighter escort attack Luqa, destroying one Spitfire and three Beauforts and damaging one Wellington.  Twelve bombs are dropped on the Safi strip runway and on the dispersal area from a high level.  Several delayed-action bombs are also dropped.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.  Malta fighters destroy one JU 88 and damage one ME 109.

1830 hrs; 2130 hrs  Delayed-action bombs explode at Ta Qali.

2215-2300 hrs; 0020-0035 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two aircraft approach the Island: all bombs are dropped in the sea.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and searchlights illuminate both raiders.

Military casualties  Identity unknown.                                                                     Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 26 JULY 1942

AIR HQ  Four Hurricanes were despatched to attack Gela aerodrome.  One returned early with mechanical trouble; another did not locate the target and returned with bombs.  The third, owing to heavy petrol consumption, could not reach the target but released two 250lb bombs in the vicinity of Scilli.  The fourth attacked Gela.  Bombs were dropped from 3000 feet and buildings and motor transport machine-gunned, but no results were seen in either case.

Arrivals  One Wellington, two Hudsons, one Sunderland, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  One Wellington en route Gibraltar to LG 224 landed Malta.  One Liberator from LG 224.  Departures  Two Hudsons from Gibraltar; one Wellington from LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufighter skidded on landing: crew uninjured.

27 July 1942: Thousands Homeless – Governor Warns PM

GORT PRAISES MALTESE BUT WARNS OF HARDSHIPS TO COME

Maltese living in shelters (NWMA Malta)

Lord Gort has today written to the Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill warning that thousands of Maltese could be homeless next winter due to the devastation wrought by enemy bombing.  More than ten thousand homes have been destroyed so far and the Island lacks the manpower or resources to rebuilt them during the continuing conflict.

Gort praised the stoicism of the Maltese, whose morale has been lifted by the recent deliveries of Spitfires to the Island.  However, with the loss of Malta fighters averaging three a day, he reminded the PM that more will be needed to protect any future convoy.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 27 JULY TO DAWN 28 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly.

0740 hrs  Delayed-action bombs explode near Ta Qali camp.

0831-0840 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two enemy aircraft orbit north of the Island and then recede.

0855 hrs  Six Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  Sgt Beurling destroys one ME 109.  Malta fighters destroy another three ME 109s and one Macchi 202, probably destroy one JU 88 and damage two JU 88s and one ME 109.  Heavy Ack Ack also engage.

0915-0933 hrs  Air raid alert.  Nine JU88s with fighter escort attack Ta Qali, killing one Army Officer.  High explosive bombs are dropped on the aerodrome and runway.  Some delayed-action bombs are suspected.  The aerodrome is temporarily unserviceable.  249 Squadron moves to operate from Luqa and 603 Squadron from Hal Far.

1157-1235 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four JU 88s attempting a bombing raid are intercepted by Malta fighters and forced to jettison their bombs in sea.  They recede north without crossing the coast.  One Heavy Ack Ack pointers engage.  Malta fighters destroy three JU 88s and four ME 109s, and damage one JU 88 and one ME 109.

1305-1325 hrs; 1355-1420 hrs; 1545-1605 hrs  Three air raid alerts sound for aircraft carrying out searches to the north east of the Island and one fighter sweep by two ME 109s.  Malta fighters probably destroy one ME 109 and damage another.

1935 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft see two JU 88s with a large escort of ME 109s.  F/Sgt Rae probably destroys one ME 109 and one RE 2001.

1952-2026 hrs   Air raid alrt.  Three JU 88s bomb the Safi strip. Heavy Ack Ack engage and Malta fighters probably destroy one ME 109 and damage one RE 2001.

2040-2050 hrs  Air raid alert.  A further search is carried out by four enemy aircraft 25 miles north of Grand Harbour.

2245-2330 hrs  Air raid alert sounds for six aircraft, of which only one crosses the coast and drops bombs south of Hal Far.  Another drops bombs in the sea off Benghaisa.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                                     Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Capitano Furio Doglio Niclot, 151a Squadriglia, shot down and died.  Sergente Maggiore Faliero Gelli, 378a Squadriglia, 155o Gruppo, 51o Stormo, pilot of a Macchi C202, shot down and injured in the crash: taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 27 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Sweepers carried out a sweep of QBB 273. 1 mine cut inside channel and one outside.

AIR HQ  Three Hurricanes were despatched to attack Comiso aerodrome.  One could not release bombs; the other two dropped bombs in the south-west dispersal area.  No results were seen.

Arrivals  One Catalina, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  One Wellington en route Gibraltar to LG 224 landed Malta; three Liberators from LG 224; one DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  One Sunderland, one Hudson, one Liberator from Gibraltar; one Catalina from Aboukir; one DC3 from Bilbeis; three Wellingtons from LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot up in combat: pilot injured.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Lt T Whitworth arrived from Mid-East and posted to No. 128 Bomb Disposal Section.  Lt F W Ashall posted to HQ Fortress RE.  Establishment 127 Bomb Disposal Section: 1 Officer, 19 Other Ranks; 128 BD Section: 1 Officer, 16 Other Ranks.

28 July 1942: Malta Fighters Double Hat-Trick

Malta Spitfires destroyed or damaged every single bomber attempting an air raid over the Island today.  In two separate raids, three JU 88 bombers were attacked by fighters on intercept missions.  In the first raid one bomber was destroyed and the other two damaged; in the second, all three JU 88s were destroyed.  Five enemy fighters were also damaged or destroyed in the dog-fights.

Liberators Land in Malta

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 JULY TO DAWN 29 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; clear.

0836-0915 hrs  Air raid alert.  A strong fighter sweep by 27 ME109s.  Malta fighters engage: no claims.

1113 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  They spot three JU 88s, eight ME 109s and two RE 2001a.  F/Sgt Rae and Sgt Gass probably destroy one JU 88.  S/Ldr Mitchell probably destroys one JU 88.  F/Sgt Rae and P/O Yates each damage one JU 88.  F/Sgt Parkes probably destroys one ME 109.  Sgt Wynn damages one ME 109.  P/O McElroy damages one ME 109 and one RE 2001.

1145-1215 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

1420-1520 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol: nil report.

1715-1747 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three JU88s escorted by twelve ME109s drop bombs on Hal Far and Bubaqra, and near Luqa.   Heavy Ack Ack engage and Malta fighters destroy all three bombers and one ME 109.  One JU 88 crashes onto Wolseley Camp of 1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt, damaging vehicles and equipment.

1720-1745 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne to escort the High Speed Launch.  They see a JU 88 crash on a tip of land.  The Launch picks up two German parachutes.

1920-2020 hrs  Two Spitfies 249 Squadron on shipping search: no sightings.

2245-2340 hrs  Air raid alert for six bombers which approach singly and drop bombs on Hal Far and Luqa.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and searchlights effect two illuminations.

Military casualties  Sergeant Donald Hubbard, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Civilian casualties  Ghaxaq  Joseph Abela, age 13.  Mosta  John Fenech, age 11.  Zurrieq  Carmel Buhagiar, age 10; Joseph Buhagiar; Salvina D’Amato, age 18.

Enemy casualties  Crews of JU 88 bombers: Gefreiter Peter Bolten, Observer, shot down and died; Unteroffizier Albert Fuehrer, Pilot, shot down and died; Unteroffizier Karl Bauer, Wireless Operator, shot down into the sea, rescued and taken prisoner; Unteroffizier Gustav Frick, Air Gunner, shot down into the sea, rescued and taken prisoner.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 28 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Swona and Motor Launches swept approaches to Marsaxlokk.  Beauforts, escorted by Beaufighters, attacked convoy and damaged one merchant vessel, which was later seen in Navarin by PRU Spitfire. Two Beauforts failed to return.  Three bombs fell close to War Signal Station at Torri L’Ahmar, causing minor damage, but no casualties.

AIR HQ  Nine Beauforts escorted by six Beaufighters attacked a southbound convoy comprising two destroyers and one 7000 ton merchant vessel in position 185 degrees Sapienza 10 miles.  The merchant vessel was hit once, pouring white smoke; this was confirmed by photos.  Bombs carried on three aircraft were dropped on the destroyers scoring near-misses.  All vessels were machine-gunned.  Photos show the merchant vessel in Navarino in the evening and was still there on 1 August 1942.

Four Hurricanes were despatched to attack Gela aerodrome.  One returned owing to oil trouble; the other three dropped bombs on the Operations Headquarters and Stores Depot, without visible results.

Arrivals  One Catalina, one Wellington, one Beaufort from Gibraltar.  Departures  Three Liberators, three Hudsons from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed on landing after combat: pilot killed.  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot rescued.

29 July 1942: RAF Heroes Skyjack Drama

Last night nine Beauforts of 217 Squadron, escorted by Beaufighters, attacked an enemy convoy of two destroyers and one merchant vessel, steaming southwards from Sapienza.  Among them was Beaufort L9820, piloted by South African Lt E T (Ted) Strever, with P/O W M Dunsmore, Sgt J A Wilkinson and Sgt A R Brown as crew.  As they flew over the merchantman to release their torpedo, the aircraft was hit in both engines.  Forced to ditch in the sea, Strever almost drowned in the cockpit before managing to struggle free and join his crew in their dinghy.

Within hours they were picked up by an Italian Cant Z506B floatplane, which took them to the Island of Corfu.  They were treated very well, given a good meal and a bed for the night.  Next morning they boarded a floatplane to be flown to Taranto, faced with the prospect of becoming prisoners of war.  But as the aircraft approached Sicily, the captive airmen set upon the Cant’s five-man crew, disabling the radio operator and disarming the others before ordering the pilot to change course for Malta.

RAF ‘hijackers’ and Italian crew surrender

As the apparently hostile aircraft neared the Island, it triggered the air raid alert and six Spitfires of 603 Squadron Ta Qali were scrambled to intercept.  Three of them attacked the floatplane as it approached St Paul’s Bay.  Lt Strever ordered the Italian pilot to land immediately on the water.  One of his crew then pulled of his shirt and his vest, to wave as a white flag as they scrambled onto the wings.

Puzzled, the Spitfire pilots ceased firing and radioed for the air sea rescue launch, circling overhead until it arrived.  The crew of HSL 107 were bemused to find four RAF airmen waiting for them on the floatplane’s wings, along with its crew of five Italians.

Highjacked Cant float-plane at Kalafrana

Air Sea Rescue commander J S Houghton recalled:  “The Cant…was towed by HSL 107 to St Paul’s Island.  It was then passed over to our Seaplane Tender and taken to a buoy off St Paul’s Pier, where the five Italians and four Commonwealth airmen were taken ashore.  A very strong Army guard was provided to prevent the locals from attacking the Italians.  The South African captain, who had led the hijack, brandished his revolver, leaving no doubt as to what he would have done if the Italians had been harmed.” (2)  Lt Strever returned his previous captors’ hospitality before seeing them in turn taken prisoners of war.  For their actions Lt Strever and P/O Dunsmore were awarded the DFC and Sgts Brown and Wilkinson the DFM.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 JULY TO DAWN 30 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; clear.

0820-0845 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali on patrol: nil reports.

0915-1040 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept an approaching formation of sixteen ME 109s and four Macchi 202s.  Sgt Beurling destroys one ME 109 before his machine is hit by machine-gunfire: the bullets shoot the entire hood off his cockpit.  Sgt Budd shoots off the fin and rudder of a ME 109 before his machine is hit by machine-gunfire.

0955-1023 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are on patrol when six JU88s with fighter escort approach the Island.  Heavy Ack Ack fire and Malta fighters engage, forcing the bombers to jettison their bombs north of the Island and destroying two ME 109s and one Macchi 202 without loss.

1300 hrs  Air raid alert.  Six Spitfires 603 Squadron see an enemy float plane coming towards St Paul’s Bay.  When attacked, the enemy aircraft is seen to pancake on the water.  Five men come out onto the wings, waving a white flag.  The Spitfires orbit until the enemy aircraft is towed into St Paul’s Bay by the High Speed Launch.

1558-1610 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are despatched to intercept.  Two return early with radio and engine trouble.  Three enemy aircraft carry out a small fighter sweep but do not cross the coast.

1640-1645 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron take off on patrol: no engagement.

1705-1730 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron patrol over the Italian floatplane.

1750-1815 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise.

2200-2210 hrs  Air raid alert.  A single aircraft drops bombs in the sea north west of Gozo, then recedes.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

Enemy casualties  Crew of Cant-Z506B floatplane hijacked en route from Corfu to Taranto taken prisoner:  Maresciallo Alessandro Cifari, co-pilot; Sergenti T Losi, engineer; Tenente Gaetano Mastrodicasa, pilot; Aviere Scelto Marcello Schisano, wireless operator and Sergente Carabiniere Giulio Scarciella.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 29 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde arrived and was swept into Marsaxlokk.  The inshore edge of QBB 273 was then swept and nine mines cut.  Italian flying boat landed in St Julian’s Bay and surrendered. This aircraft was captured by the crew of one of the Beauforts, which crashed during the attack on the convoy the previous night, who while on passage from Navarin to Italy, overpowered the crew and forced them to fly them to Malta.  Clyde discharged practically all her cargo on the night of 29th/30th.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Four Liberators, three Beauforts, one Wellington from Gibraltar.  One DC3 from Bilbeis.  Departures  One DC3 from Bilbeis.  Aircraft casualties  Two Beauforts shot down while attacking convoy: one crew took to dinghy; one crew returned to base.  One Spitfire flap failed on landing: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire crashed on landing: pilot uninjured.

30  July 1942: War Artist for Malta

From:  Governor & C in C Malta               To:  The War Office                 Personal from Lord Gort for CIGS

I shall be glad to have war artists.  Please consult Ministry of Information whose cable Empax 45 suggests the name.  Is this the artist you have in mind?  It should be made clear that artist would work under information officer.  This would be in accordance with local arrangements whereby official War Office photographer works under general supervision information officer who is in position greatly to assist in choice of subjects and distribution of products.

Malta: Fighters take off from Luca’s bombed runway, by Leslie Cole 1943                                                  © IWM (art.IWM ART LD 3554)

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 JULY TO DAWN 31 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind northerly; fast-moving cloud.

0745-0800 hrs  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron and eight of 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.

0820-0845 hrs  Air raid alert for a 35-strong fighter sweep of 35.  The Spitfires of 603 Squadron attack four ME 109s but then the Spitfires are jumped by six Macchi 202s.  F/Sgt Parkinson destroys one ME 109.

1055 hrs  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are airborne to intercept approaching a reported plot of 27 hostile aircraft, including bombers.  One Spitfire returns early and runs into enemy fighters.  One Spitfire is slightly damaged; the pilot is unhurt.  Five minutes later, eight Spitfires 249 Squadron take off; two return early and are attacked by Messerschmitts.

1125-1200 hrs  Air raid alert.  Raid does not materialise: it is believed that the bombers turned back.

1605-1625 hrs; 1840-1850 hrs  Two air raid alerts for small groups of fighters: one group crosses the Island at 26000 feet on reconnaissance.

2130-2225 hrs  Air raid alert for four single bombers, only two of which cross the coast and drop bombs on St Julians, Birkirkara and Tal Qroqq areas, killing twelve civilians and wounding twenty-four.  Heavy Ack Ack engage and one JU 88 is destroyed by a Beaufighter before reaching the Island.

Military casualties  Sergeant Colin Wood, Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Civilian casualties  See 31 July.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 30 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  P42 sailed on patrol.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson, three Beauforts from Gibraltar.  Departures  Two Liberators, one Hudson from Gibraltar;  one Wellington from LG 224; one Beaufighter from Abu Sueir.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed on landing after combat: pilot uninjured.

31 July 1942: Park’s Tactics Keep Bombers Away

ME 109 fighters

The new tactics introduced by Air Officer Commanding Air Vice-Marshal Sir Keith Park were evidently taking effect today as enemy bombers stayed clear of the Island throughout daylight hours.  The AOC’s ‘Forward Interception Plan’, issued on 25 July, has resulted in increased aircraft losses for the enemy and forced many bombers to jettison their payload before reaching target.

Axis command is now sending only fighter sweeps in daylight, flying at high altitude in an attempt to gain the advantage over Malta’s Spitfires.  In response, Park has ordered his fighters to remain below 20000 feet to force the enemy to drop to their preferred altitude if he wants to engage in combat.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 31 JULY TO DAWN 1 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; little cloud.

Day  Three fighter sweeps of 6, 15 and 30 aircraft respectively; very few fighters cross the coast. Malta fighters destroy two ME 109s and one RE 2001, and damage one Macchi 202.  Heavy Ack Ack engage the last raid with pointer rounds.

0735-0845 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are despatched on intercept patrol: no enemy aircraft sighted.

1047-1105 hrs  Air raid alert.

1440-1520 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.  They encounter six unidentified fighters.  One Spitfire’s engine cuts out, and the aircraft returns.  Another Spitfire engine cuts out: Sgt Ballantyne attempts to land at Luqa and overshoots the runway, damaging his aircraft.  Sgt Parkinson damages one Macchi 202.

1610-1640 hrs  Air raid alert.

2205-2256 hrs  Air raid alert for three enemy aircraft which do not cross the coast.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Anthony Agius, age 29; Carmel Borg, age 27; John Busuttil, age 16; Pauline Busuttil, age 5; Joseph Calleja, age 75; Georgina Dimech, age 28; Michael Fenech, age 47; Orazia Grech, age 4; Maria Melita Medati, age 50; Mary Scerri, age 9; Carmela Sammut, age 23; Amabile Sammut, age 21.  Mgarr  Joseph Deguara, age 45.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 31 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Parthian sailed for Gibraltar.  P34 arrived and swept into harbour by Rye. Swona carried out sweep of entrance channel.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot missing.  One Spitfire shot up in combat: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire engine cut on landing: pilot uninjured.

1 August 1942: Pilot’s 16 Hour Paddle to Safety

A pilot reported missing turned up safe and well this morning, nearly 24 hours after he left base.  Pilot Officer Tony Bruce took off yesterday from Hal Far to intercept enemy raiders.  He was attacked off-shore by an enemy fighter and his Spitfire was seen to ditch in the sea.  When no trace of him was found, the pilot was thought to have perished, until he staggered ashore this morning.

P/O Bruce had managed to scramble into his dinghy, which he then paddled single-handed the 15 miles back to shore.  He took 16 hours to complete the journey, to the surprise of comrades who thought he had perished.

MILITARY SITUATION REPORT FOR WEEK ENDING 1 AUGUST 1942

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

1.  First two days bomber attacks by total 33 JU88 continued against aerodromes.  Successful interceptions by fighters and destruction of complete bomber formations has made enemy change tactics.  Thereafter strong fighter sweeps only.  Bombers have sometimes approached but invariably turned back or jettisoned bombs.

One Italian float plane Cant 506 B captured and flown intact with Italian crew to Malta by crew of Beaufort previously shot down and rescued in Ionian Sea.  Nine Beauforts and six Beaufighters attacked convoy bound for Libya immobilising one merchant vessel 5000 tons.  Eleven sorties by bomb-carrying Hurricanes against Sicilian aerodromes.

2.  Enemy aircraft casualties.  Eight bombers 17 fighters destroyed, five probably 16 damaged by RAF.  Ack Ack no claims.

Army builds 30 more pens in a week

3.  At urgent request of RAF for 30 new aircraft pens to be built in one week and others to be repaired Army working parties of 2000 men and 150 vehicles provided working two shifts daily.

4.  Military damage slight.  Casualties one Officer killed; one Officer, two Other Ranks wounded.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 AUGUST TO DAWN 2 AUGUST 1942

Weather  Fine; visibility 10-15 miles.

Day  Four fighter sweeps, two of them in strength totalling 52 aircraft.

0922 hrs  Air raid alert.  A formation of enemy fighters is reported heading towards the Island.  Six Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept.  They are joined by eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali, of which two return early.  There is no engagement.

0945-1015 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali carry out a patrol: nothing to report.

1235-1255 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled and try to intercept four ME 109s but are unable to catch them before they cross the Island.

1422-1455 hrs  Air raid alert for another fighter sweep.  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept a fighter sweep: no engagement.

1645-1720 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires Hal Far are scrambled to intercept a fighter sweep: nothing sighted.

2250-2325 hrs  One air raid alert for three aircraft.  Bombs are dropped in the sea off Il Blata.

Military casualties  Nil.

Civilian casualties  Birkirkara  Joseph Galea, age 13.

OPERATIONS REPORTS DAY 1 AUGUST 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Clyde sailed for Gibraltar being swept out by Hythe, who subsequently swept P31 into Harbour.  P44 also sailed, carrying out night full calibre firing at Filfla before proceeding on patrol.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Catalina, one Liberator, two Beauforts, one Hudson from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson to Gibraltar; one Liberator to St Jean Fayid or LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot rescued uninjured.

HAL FAR  Wing Commander Douglas-Hamilton assumed the duties of Wing Commander in charge of flying.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS  Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 75.  Dealt with: High Explosives 23, including 7delayed-action (4 x 500kg; 16 x 250kg; 2 x 50kg; 1 x 35kg); 341 anti-personnel bombs.

(1)  The SAAF at War 1940-1984, Bouwer, J S & Louw, M N, Chris van Rensburg, 1989

(2)  Malta: Blitzed but not Beaten, Philip Vella, Progress Press, 1985

 

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

 
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28 June-4 July 1942: Enemy Launches Night Attacks – 37 Killed

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28 June 1942: Soldiers Train as Dockers

Unloading convoy ship Welshman (NWMA Malta)

Malta command has reviewed the unloading of the recently arrived convoy ships and concluded that the involvement of troops was essential to its success.  Military manpower doubled the labour force and ensured the fastest completion of the operation, before enemy attacks could destroy ships and supplies.

Following the review it has been decided to train service personnel as dockyard winchmen and charge-hands, in advance of the next convoy to Malta.  There is no indication of how soon this will be.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 28 JUNE TO DAWN 29 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; no cloud.

0513-0555 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for four enemy bombers with a 10 strong fighter escort.  Bombs are dropped on Luqa and Safi, destroying one Beaufort and damaging a Baltimore.  Hal Far is also attacked: many delayed-action and anti-personnel bombs land on the dispersal areas and on the aerodrome, which is put out of use until 1900 hrs.  One Swordfish is destroyed and four Spitfires are damaged and one soldier is slightly injured.

0515-0614 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa is airborne on intercept patrol: no combat.

0635 hrs; 0700 hrs  Air raid alerts sound for enemy fighter sweeps.

0830-0915 hrs; 1135-1200 hrs  Four Spitfires from Luqa, then two from 249 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne on intercept patrol: no combat.

1515 hrs  A formation of six Messerschmitts is reported approaching the Island.  Twelve Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept but see nothing; they land at 1600 hrs.

1820 hrs  Air raid alert. A formation of six ME 109s carry out a surprise attack on minesweepers off Grand Harbour.

2040 hrs  Air raid alert: raid does not materialise.

2345-0130 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron Luqa on intercept patrol: F/O Mitchell destroys a JU 87.

0034 hrs; 0505 hrs  Two air raid alerts sound.  A total of 21 aircraft approach the Island in two raids; only nine cross the coast.  Bombs are dropped across Mellieha, Safi and Hal Far, killing two Other Ranks 1st Bn Hampshire Regt and injuring two.

0445 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept 10 JU 88s approaching the Island.

0450-0605 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron is airborne on intercept patrol.  The Spitfires observe F/O Fumerton engage one JU 88, which he destroys: it is seen later burning in the sea.  He later attacks and destroys another JU 88.

Military casualties  Nil.                                                                          Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SUNDAY 28 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Nineteen mines swept. Sweepers were machine gunned by ME 109s from 5000 feet without causing damage or casualties.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Six Wellingtons and two Blenheims from Gibraltar; five Wellingtons from Shallufa.  Departures  Six Wellingtons to LG 224; one Wellington to Shallufa.

HAL FAR  1900 hrs  185 Squadron and RNAS stood down.

LUQA  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Taranto Harbour.  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance Catania, Gerbini, Gela, Biscari, Comiso, Noto.  2220-0142 hrs  Nine Wellingtons despatched on shipping strike but were recalled without making the attack.

TA QALI   53 airmen of 601 Squadron arrived from Hal Far. 0125-0220 hrs; 0225-0310 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron patrol towards Sicily but see nothing.  0330-0415 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron patrol to Cape Passero and attempt to shoot up a beacon without success.

29 June 1942: Malta Fighters Chase Enemy Back to Sicily

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 JUNE TO DAWN 30 JUNE 1942

Weather  Wind south-westerly; moderate to strong.  Little high cloud.

Lockheed Lodestar

0715 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two Spitfires Luqa area scrambled to intercept: no combat.

0855 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy fighters and sight eight ME 109s.

0900 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are also scrambled and sight two of the ME 109s, but lose them when gaining height.

0910 hrs  The air raid alert sounds as the ME 109s near the Island.  P/O Barbour, 603 Squadron, is jumped by two of the fighters: he bales out and is observed safely in his dinghy.

0915-1045 hrs  Two pairs of Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne to cover and protect minesweepers operating off the coast.  They guide the rescue launch to P/O Barbour.

1425 hrs  The air raid alert sounds with the approach of four enemy fighters.  Eight Spitfires from Ta Qali search and locate them forty miles south east of the Island.  They chase the fighters off towards Sicily.

1515-1540 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to cover the return of 603 Squadron: no combat.

1655-1725 hrs  Four Spitfires Luqa carry out a patrol: no combat.

1935-2040 hrs  Fighters are reported heading for Malta.  Eight Spitfires 126 Squadron Luqa are airborne and ready to intercept: no combat.

2130-2340 hrs  One Beaufighter 89 Squadron is airborne on intercept patrol.

2245 hrs  Two Spitfires 126 Squadron are scrambled to intercept eight approaching enemy bombers.  The Beaufighter pilot F/L Edwards attacks and destroys one JU 88.

2250 hrs  The air raid alert sounds as the bombers approach the Island.  Bombs are dropped on St Paul’s Bay and on Luqa, damaging a defence post and motor transport.

2335 hrs  All clear.

Military casualties  Private Edward Green, 1st Battalion, Hampshire Regiment; Bombardier David Lee, 74 Light Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery; Private William Morgan, 1st Battalion, Hampshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS MONDAY 29 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Weather unsuitable for minesweeping.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  Three Hudsons, three Wellingtons, one Beaufort from Gibraltar; one Lodestar from LG 104; One Beaufighter from Middle East.  Departures  Three Hudsons to Gibraltar; two Blenheims, one Wellington to LG 224; one Lodestar to Heliopolis; one Wellington to Shallufa.    Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed in sea after combat; pilot safe.

LUQA  One Spitfire photo-reconnaissance (PR) Taranto reports 100% cloud over Sicily and Foggia.  One Spitfire PR Taranto reports naval situation unchanged.

TA QALI  0625-0700 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on a search mission sight a dinghy in the water ten miles south of Cape Passero.

30 June 1942: Clamp Down on Black Marketeers

The Government of Malta is to introduce very severe penalties for Black Market trading.  The new measures include a maximum term of five years’ imprisonment for those convicted.  The new measures take effect from tomorrow.  (1)

AIR RAID STATISTICS JUNE 1942

  • Total number of raids 173
  • Raid-free days nil
  • Night raids 60
  • Raid free nights 4
  • Alerts for own planes 11
  • Total time from air raid alert to raiders passed 3 days, 15 hrs, 43mins.
  • Average length of alert 30.4 mins.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 JUNE TO DAWN 1 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; no cloud.

0910 hrs  Air raid alert.  Eight Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy fighters.  They encounter seven ME 109s over St Paul’s Bay but there is no combat.

1020-1125 hrs  Three Spitfires from Ta Qali patrol over Gozo.  The air raid alert sounds at 1045 hrs for approaching fighters but there are no interceptions.

1310 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four Spitfires from Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy fighters.  They patrol 20 miles towards Sicily but see nothing.

1510-1535 hrs; 1900-1910 hrs  Two Spitfires 601 Squadron Ta Qali are airborne each time to intercept enemy aircraft but raid does not materialise.

1930-2030 hrs  Four Spitfires 601 Squadron patrol over Gozo.  Two more Spitfires 601 Squadron are despatched to provide cover for launches in Grand Harbour.  The air raid alert sounds at 1955 hrs for approaching fighters but there are no interceptions.

2145-2335 hrs; 2250-2359 hrs  Two Beaufighters on intercept patrol: no combat.

2234-0515 hrs   Air raid alert.  Six JU 88 bombers drop high explosive bombs in the area of Luqa, Qrendi, Birzebbuga and Delimara, and on Fleur de Lys.

0410-0515 hrs  Thirteen enemy bombers and fighters approach the Island.  Bombs are dropped on Safi and Luqa, where a starter battery is destroyed.

Military casualties  Petty Officer Steward Joseph Attard, HMS St.Angelo.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Veneranda Scicluna, age 45.  Safi  Concetta Cashia, age 34; Carmela Cachia, age 2; John Farrugia, age 5.

OPERATIONS REPORTS TUESDAY 30 JUNE 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Weather unsuitable for sweeping.  SS King of England escorted by ML 462 proceeded to Marsaxlokk, arriving 2150 hrs. King of England pumped 100 tons of fuel oil from Breconshire during the night.  Total number of unexploded bombs dealt with by Royal Navy in June: 3.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Whitley, one Blenheim, one Beaufort from Gibraltar; Departures  One Whitley to Gibraltar; one Beaufort to LG 224.

LUQA  2151-0605 hrs  Three Wellingtons S/D Flight despatched on shipping search.  Two Malta-based Wellingtons attacked a southbound enemy convoy of three 6000 ton merchant vessels and four destroyers, 23 miles from Cape Maria de Leuca.  Near-misses were observed on one of the merchant vessels. Three more Wellingtons of 38 Squadron attacked with torpedoes, scoring two hits on one merchant vessel.  The pilots observed a lot of smoke and the ship came to a stop.  After the attack, part of the convoy was seen to turn back towards Taranto.

1 July 1942: Malta Bombers Delay Rommel’s Convoy

A Spitfire of Malta’s photo-reconnaissance unit yesterday brought back photographs of Taranto showing much enemy activity in the harbour.  Signs indicate that the convoy subjected to recent attacks has now been re-assembled.  The deck cargo from the damaged merchant ship has been removed and transferred to another ship.  Several more merchant vessels were observed berthed in the outer harbour, ready to embark with supplies for North Africa.

Wellington bombers

Overnight, a search was carried out by two Wellingtons in the Gulf of Taranto, to locate and bomb the enemy ships, and guide in torpedo-carrying Wellingtons ready to attack the convoy as it emerged from harbour.  Another Wellington carried out a search to the south of the Gulf to cover a wider area in case the convoy made more rapid progress.  The five torpedo-bearing Wellingtons left Malta at nightfall and circled near Cape Santa Maria di Leuca, ready to strike as soon as the convoy emerged from the Gulf.

At 0135 hrs this morning, three merchant ships and four destroyers were spotted crawling along the coast near Gallipoli, in the heel of Italy.  The Wellingtons bombed and launched their torpedoes, scoring hits on one ship and near misses with bombs on others.  The Italian crews appeared to panic, and immediately turned tail to head back to Taranto.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 1 JULY TO DAWN 2 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind southerly; no cloud.

0810-0817 hrs  Air raid alert for enemy fighter patrol.

0910-0930 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy patrol: no combat.

0950-1100 hrs  Six Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept enemy fighters.  At 1002 hrs the air raid alert sounds.  The patrolling aircraft see four enemy fighters but are unable to engage.

1450-1520 hrs  Air raid alert.  Four JU88s escorted by 20 fighters drops one large high explosive bomb on the shore near Qawra Tower. Four Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled: no interceptions.

1815-1925 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 603 Squadron are scrambled to intercept two approaching formations totalling some forty aircraft, two Cant 1007s with BR 20s, ME 109s, RE 2001s and Macchi 202s.

1840 hrs  Air raid alert.  The first formation of two Italian SM 84s with a close escort of Italian fighters heads for Ta Qali.  The bombers drop twelve 100kg bombs on the Imtarfa area.  A separate formation of German and Italian fighters is spotted to the north east of Gozo.  P/O Hurst, 603 Squadron, attacks one bomber from 300 yards to point-blank range and sees strikes on the aircraft.  Hurst is hit by return fire and loses all his glycol.  Sgt Parkinson destroys one ME 109 and damages another.  Parkinson is then jumped by another fighter and has to bale out.  He is slightly injured and is rescued later.

1930 hrs  All clear.

2000-2015 hrs  Air raid alert.

2015-2130 hrs  Three Spitfires 603 Squadron are despatched on dusk patrol: nil report.

2215-2245 hrs; 2330-2335 hrs; 2359-0045 hrs  Air raid alerts.  A total of 25 aircraft cross the Island, including Italian and German bombers with fighter escort.  Bombs are dropped on Qrendi, Marsaxlokk, Hal Far, Luqa, Kalafrana, Boschetto, Ta Qali, Marfa and Rabat.  Heavy Ack Ack engage.

0150-0245 hrs  Air raid alert.  Unidentified enemy aircraft drop bombs in the Luqa area, destroying one Wellington and one Beaufort.

Military casualties  Private James Hoare, 2nd Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment; Colour Sergeant Thornton Springett, 2nd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Qrendi  Carmela Spiteri, age 70.

OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 1 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  SS King of England returned from Marsaxlokk escorted by ML 462, having recovered 100 tons of fuel oil from Breconshire.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Hudson, one Whitley, two Hudsons, one Wellington from Gibraltar.  Departures  One Hudson, one Whitley from Gibraltar; one Wellington from Heliopolis; two Wellingtons, one Blenheim from LG 224.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire shot down into the sea: pilot safe.

2 July 1942: Fire bombing of Boschetto Camp Kills 7; Injures 11

Boschetto

Seven RAF servicemen were killed when enemy bombers targeted the RAF camp in Boschetto Gardens in the early hours of this morning.  Three high explosive bombs hit the tented camp at 0100 hrs.  One landed directly on a tent and the others exploded nearby, causing considerable damage to tents, marquees and equipment.  Seven servicemen were killed and two were rushed to hospital with extensive wounds.  Eleven more were taken to hospital later, either suffering from injuries or severe shock.

Dozens of incendiary bombs were also dropped in the raid, setting fire to the trees which burst into flames.  Despite the ongoing air raid, all available men grabbed fire extinguishers and sand buckets to put out the flames.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 2 JULY TO DAWN 3 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly; little cloud.

0830-0920 hrs  Air raid alert for approaching enemy fighters.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron intercept six ME 109s.  F/O Mitchell damages one ME 109.  P/O Hurst is reported missing.

0920 hrs  Twelve Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.  They engage eight ME 109s and five Cant 1007 bombers.  S/Ldr Lucas and F/Sgt Parkes each destroy one ME 109.  W/O Ramsay damages a starboard engine of one aircraft and sees pieces fly off the port wing.  F/Sgt De Nancrede scores hits on the leading bomber and damages the port bomber.  Eight Spitfires 603 Squadron are also airborne and see a Cant 1007 with 20 strong fighter escort.  P/O King and P/O Glazebrook together probably destroy a Macchi.  Both pilots are then attacked head-on and they crash land at Ta Qali.

0955-1020 hrs  Air raid alert.  The five Cant 1007s drop thirty 100kg and five 50kg bombs on Safi and Kalafrana.  Spitfires of 603 Squadron attack.  P/O Smith damages one Cant and destroys one ME 109.  F/O Mitchell and P/O Newman both attack a bomber, leaving his engine smoking.  Sgt Parkinson and P/O Johnson each damage one RE 2001.

1055-1205 hrs; 1205-1245 hrs  Two Spitfires 249 Squadron, then two of 603 Squadron search for P/O Hurst.

1245-1400 hrs  Four Spitfires attack a fishing smack south of Kalafrana.

1400 hrs  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy bombers.

1420 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three JU 88 bombers escorted by four fighters drop bombs on Luqa from 23000 feet,  killing two civilians and wounding two civilians and two servicemen.  One Beaufighter is slightly damaged.  The Spitfires attack the JU 88s.   P/O Spradley damages the centre one; P/O Linton damages another.  P/O Daddo-Langlois attacks the port bomber and the crew bales out 40 miles north of the Island.  F/Sgt Middlemiss spots a ME 109 on the tail of P/O Kelly.  He opens fire and sees the ME 109 dive down and splash into the sea.  P/O Kelly does not return.

1455 hrs  All clear.

1505-1615 hrs  Spitfires of 249 Squadron search for P/O Kelly but find nothing.

1825-1842 hrs  Air raid alert.

1855-2000 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron are airborne on patrol to cover minesweepers.

1920 hrs  Air raid alert.  Seven Spitfires 249 Squadron are scrambled and sight eight Cant 1007s with a 15 strong fighter escort.  S/Ldr Lucas damages one ME 109.  F/Sgt Parkes also damages one ME 109 which is last seen diving down.  F/Sgt De Nancrede is hit in the engine in a head-on attack and crash-lands at Ta Qali.

1946-2015 hrs  Air raid alert.  Two Cants drop 100kg bombs on Luqa, safi and Hal Far from 20000ft.

2300-2307 hrs; 0005-0030 hrs  Air raid alerts.  Italian and German bombers drop high explosive and anti-personnel bombs on scattered areas.  Heavy and Light Ack Ack engage.

0055-0154 hrs  Air raid alert.  Enemy aircraft drop bombs on Luqa.  One Beaufighter is airborne.  P/O Fumerton fires a one-second burst at a JU 88 which causes an explosion.  A further burst sets the bomber on fire and it falls into the sea.  Four pilots of 249 Squadron search for a pilot in the sea 10-12 miles north of Grand Harbour.  They locate him and observe the launch completing the rescue.

Military casualties  Leading Aircraftsman Norman Clark, Royal Air Force; Aircraftsman 1 Cecil Clarke Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAF VR); Corporal Gilbert Cruickshank, RAF; Pilot Officer John Hurst DFC, RAF VR, Leading Aircraftsman John Johnson, RAF VR; Aircraftsman Harry Lapish, Mentioned in Despatches, RAF VR; Aircraftsman George Meyrick, RAF VR; Corporal Bertie Nichols, RAF VR; Leading Aircraftsman J Portelli, RAF.

Civilian casualties  Nil.

OPERATIONS REPORTS THURSDAY 2 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Minesweeping in progress. 22 mines swept.

AIR HQ  Arrivals  One Beaufort, three Hudsons, five Wellingtons from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire crashed on landing: pilot uninjured.  One Spitfire badly shot up in combat: pilot injured.  One Spitfire shot down in combat: pilot missing, believed killed.  One Spitfire shot down in combat into the sea: pilot missing, believed killed.  Two Spitfires crashed on landing after combat: both pilots safe.  One Spitfire force-landed after combat: pilot uninjured.

LUQA  Three Malta-based Wellingtons attacked an enemy convoy of three merchant ships and one destroyer, 8 miles from Madonna Isle and heading south-easterly.  The largest of the merchant vessels was targeted and a direct hit claimed, as well as several near-misses.  Three more Wellingtons of 38 Squadron attacked with torpedoes and a small faire was observed on one of the merchantmen.

3 July 1942: On the Trail of a Convoy

Santa Maria de Leuca

AIR RAIDS DAWN 3 JULY TO DAWN 4 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind south-easterly; no cloud.

0855-0940 hrs  The air raid alert sounds for a formation of three Cant 1007s escorted by about 12 fighters.  The bombers drop twenty-one 100kg bombs on Lija and Attard from 21000 feet.

1145-1235 hrs; 1350-1410 hrs  Air raid alerts for enemy fighters on patrol.

1820 hrs   Four Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are despatched to act as cover for arriving Beauforts.  Eight more are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy fighters.

1830-1845 hrs; 1935-1945 hrs  Air raid alerts for enemy fighter sweeps.

2235-2240 hrs; 2330-2333 hrs  Air raid alerts: raids do not materialise.

0015-0124 hrs  Air raid alert for 14 raiders; 10 cross the coast and drop bombs on Ta Qali, Luqa, Qawra and Dingli.  Several delayed-action bombs are dropped near the runway extension and the cuttings at Ta Qali.

Military casualties  Lance Sergeant Randolph Dutton, 10 Battery, 7 Heavy Ack Ack Regiment, Royal Artillery.

Civilian casualties  Attard  Grace Borg, age 30; Mary Gauci, age 53.  Floriana  Laurence Cauchi, age 26.  Hamrun  Eleonora Apap, age 66.  Rabat  Consiglio Portellil, age 53.  Siggiewi  Laurence Cutajar, age 62; Josephine Muscat, age 52; Emanuel Muscat, age 22; Rosina Muscat, age 20; Mary Concetta Muscat, age 16; Saviour Muscat, age 7; Joseph Schembri, age 50. Sliema  Peter Cordina, age 57.

OPERATIONS REPORTS FRIDAY 3 JULY 1942

ROYAL NAVY  Four mines swept. Channel considered clear as far as Zonkor Point.

AIR HQ  Arrivals    Three Hudsons, two Beauforts, one Wellington, six Whitleys from Gibraltar.  Aircraft casualties  One Spitfire suffered engine failure and crashed into the sea: pilot safe.  Two Beauforts failed to return from shipping strike: crew missing.

TA QALI  Corporal Thomas and Leading Aircraftsman Portelli died of their injuries at Imtarfa Hospital.

LUQA  Three aircraft attacked a convoy of three 9000 ton merchant vessels and seven destroyers, thirty miles from Sapienza.  The pilots reported near-misses on two of the merchantmen.  Another Wellington of 38 Squadron attacked with one torpedo but could not see results due to a smoke screen.  Four Beauforts escorted by five Beaufighters carried out a dusk attack on a convoy of eight destroyers and three 7000 ton merchant vessels steaming south east…miles from Sapienza.  One of the merchant ships was hit, causing much smoke and a red glow.  Another was possibly hit.

4 July 1942: Morale Remains High Says Governor

From: Governor & C in C Malta                To:  C in C Middle East                              Rptd: War Office   Military situation report week ending 4 July 42

St George’s Barracks

2.  Enemy aircraft destroyed: by Ack Ack at night 2 bombers.  By Beaufighters at night 8 bombers.  By Spitfires 2 JU 88s, 3 Cants, 9 fighters.  Probably destroyed or damaged by RAF P 7 bombers, 18 fighters.  For loss of 6 Spitfires and 8 damaged.

3.  Offensive air action limited to 11 sorties by Wellingtons against enemy convoys.

4.  Military casualties.  5 Other Ranks killed, 9 Other Ranks wounded.  Training of soldiers as winchmen, chargehands, etc for unloading future convoy proceeding.  Morale remains high.

BEAUFORTS MISSING AFTER CONVOY RAID

This afternoon a Baltimore sent to find the main convoy from Taranto sighted the three merchant vessels with an escort of eight destroyers 15 miles south of the island of Zante, heading south westerly.  Eight Beauforts were despatched to launch a dusk attack.  They found the convoy ten miles south of Sapienza and attacked, claiming at least one hit.  However, the Beauforts failed to return.  Three Wellingtons launched a second attack with torpedoes and bombs, claiming near misses.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 4 JULY TO DAWN 5 JULY 1942

Weather  Wind westerly; no cloud.

0645-0745 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron Ta Qali search for a missing Beaufort crew: no sighting.

0810 hrs  Ten Spitfires 249 Squadron Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept approaching enemy aircraft.

0845 hrs  Air raid alert.  Three Italian SM 84s with an escort of ME 109s, Macchi 202s and Re 2001s drop bombs between Attard and Luqa, where they destroy the Signals Maintenance section and damaging another building.  The Spitfires spot the Italian bombers and fighters and attack.  S/Ldr Lucas destroys one bomber; F/Lt Daddo-Langlois and F/Sgt Middlemiss together destroy a second and F/Sgt Rae the third.

0855-1015 hrs  Four Spitfires 603 Squadron patrol above the rescue launch and then intercept six Macchi 202s.  P/O King is shot up but unhurt.

0905-1050 hrs  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron continue a patrol for the rescue launch as it searches for Italian air crew in the sea.

1550-1555 hrs; 1615-1645 hrs  Air raid alert: raids do not materialise.

1730-1830 hrs  Four Spitfires 249 Squadron on patrol: nil report.

1935 hrs  Eight Spitfires from Ta Qali are scrambled to intercept enemy aircraft.

1948 hrs  Air raid alert.  Five Cant 1007s with 15 fighters drop bombs on Ta Qali and Musta.  The Spitfires of 249 Squadron attack the raiders.  F/Sgt De Lara damages one Italian fighter.  P/O McElroy probably destroys one RE 2001 and sees two others spinning downwards.  Fighters jump S/Ldr Lucas, damaging his aircraft.

2000 hrs  All clear.

2130-2205 hrs  Two Spitfires 603 Squadron on patrol: nil report.

2215-2305 hrs; 2315-2359 hrs; 0250-0425 hrs  Air raid alerts.  A total of 26 aircraft approach the Island; 18 cross the coast.   Bombs are dropped on Ta Qali, Mosta, Imtarfa, Wardia, Naxxar, Floriana and Valetta.  Beaufighters are airborne on patrol: no engagement.

Military casualties  Private Edward Walker, 8th Battalion, Manchester Regiment.

Civilian casualties  Luqa  Andrew Coleiro, age 53.  Siggiewi  Concetta Frendo, age 16.

OPERATIONS REPORTS SATURDAY 4 JULY 1942

AIR HQ  Aircraft casualties  One Beaufort crashed into the sea in transit from Malta to Kasfareet: crew missing.  One Spitfire crash-landed: pilot uninjured.

FORTRESS ROYAL ENGINEERS Bomb Disposal UXB  Reported 60.  Dealt with: high explosives 31 (3 x 500kg, 11 x 250kg, 10 x 50kg, 7 AP containers); German 2kg anti-personnel (AP) 275; Italian 2kg AP 46; large no of dud German 1kg incendiaries collected.

(1)  Malta Diary of a War, Michael Galea, Publishers Enterprises Group, 1994

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Posted by on July 4, 2022 in 1942, July 1942, June 1942

 

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