Dogfight over Malta

An anti aircraft position overlooking the Grand Harbour at Malta, pictured later in the war.

Squadron Leader Charles Derek Whittingham had been shot down and wounded during the Battle of Britain. He was now leading No 216 Squadron in the defence of Malta. Now that the Luftwaffe were operating in the Mediterranean this was developing into a very fierce battle.

Feb 25th
Red letter day.
Squadron sighted four bandits, enemy bombers, stooging around over Tilfa everyone went arse for leather at them. I saw one straggling about half a mile behind the rest, so left the Squadron and attacked it from the stern. I could not get an underneath deflection shot, as he was too low, only at 500 ft. I had given him three seconds burst, when he opened up at me. He was a very good shot. His tracers were going well around me. It was lucky I was not shot. I broke away sharply to right about 1½ seconds of his fire and did not see him burst into flames, and go into the sea. But the A.A. people did, so that’s my second since coming here. HH got another so did John B. All the flight fired their guns.

We celebrated this with a bottle of beer, but had hardly finished it, when we went on another flap.

Jock led and took us up to 26,000 feet. On the way down I noticed a plane on fire. I notified control. Jock heard me and circled round. He saw the bloke land in the sea. Fortunately, very near a ship. This picked Jock Watch up. So we flew home and pancaked. Watch had broken his leg in seven places, his arm in three. At the time of writing he is very dangerously ill. Seems to have lost the will to live, and will probably die.

To Rabat that night where the congratulations from Patsy and people were very heartening.

Read his whole diary on BBC People’s War.

Malta.
German aircraft approached the Island every day, and two, or possibly three, reconnaissance aircraft were shot down, but no attack developed until the 26th, when a force of about twelve long-range bombers and thirty dive-bombers, escorted by 20-30 fighters, attacked Luqa aerodrome, destroying six of outbombers and damaging eleven others. The aerodrome is likely to be unserviceable for some days. Seven dive-bombers were destroyed, two by fighters, and eleven others were probable casualties. Three Hurricanes were shot down.

From the Air Situation Report for the week.

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