The sustained air attack on Malta reached its peak in April 1942 with over 280 air raids during the whole month, almost 10 a day. The brunt of the attack was borne by the civilian population with most of the small towns having between 60 and 70 per cent of their houses destroyed or seriously damaged. Casualties were in their hundreds every month with many more seriously injured.
[permalink id=18729 text=”Resupplying the island”] was now a major undertaking, any ship making for Malta had to travel in convoy and run a gauntlet of German and Italian bombers and torpedo planes, in addition to the threat from surface ships and U-boats. Food supplies were now running short. Invasion itself seemed imminent. It was in recognition of these threats that the King made the exceptional gesture of awarding the George Cross to the whole island. There was no shortage of heroism amongst the island’s [permalink id=18523 text=”military defenders”] but this was recognition of what the island’s population was enduring.
In air raids on Malta during the week H.M. Destroyer Kingston was sunk in dock and H.M. Destroyer Lance was further damaged. An immense amount of damage has been done on the island, and among familiar landmarks which have been destroyed or seriously damaged are both Admiralty Houses (at Valetta and Vittoriosa), St. Angelo, the Customs House, the Castille, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Opera House and the great dome of the church at Musta. The Rinella wireless station and the Naval Canteen were also hit, and minor damage was caused in H.M. Dockyard.
From the Naval Situation Report for the week ending 16th April as reported to the British War Cabinet, see TNA CAB66/23/44.
Daily progress of the campaign can be followed at Malta GC at 70.