The Illustrious Blitz – Malta in wartime 1940 – 1941


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During World War II, our lives were engulfed by great and dramatic events. One of these was the epic of H.M.S. ‘Illustrious’ when she was bombed with unrelenting fury while undergoing emergency repairs at H.M. Dockyard, Malta in January 1941.

On the 16th and 19th January, the Grand Harbour was subjected to the most devastating air-raids it had ever known. On those unforgettable days, the inhabitants of Cottonera and its environs passed through a terrible ordeal. Never had the three Cities lived through such tragic days.

At 2p.m. on the 16th January, we heard air-raid alarm no. 240. People rushed down the shelters, many clutching babies of young children in their arms. Shortly after 2p.m., in the blue sky streaked wave after wave of German Stukas. The principal target was the ‘Illustrious’. A curtain of fire and steel rose from numerous anti-air-craft batteries to meet the large number of raiders. The scorching barrage disrupted their aiming accuracy.

The scenes in the Grand Harbour were breathtaking. Huge columns of water rose from the disturbed sea as more bombs exploded near the damaged air-craft carrier. Cottonera, Valletta, Floriana, Marsa and Paola rocked to the shock of battle, while the sky became a patchwork of fire and smoke. The blazing inferno raged on.

The Three Cities shuddered to the impact of countless bombs which overshot or undershot their mark. A large number of the waves of bombers turned back towards Sicily, cries for help were coming up from many who were trapped or injured in their homes and from shelters whose exits had been blocked. Tragedies and drama were all intermingled.

Additional information

Weight 386.0000 g
Dimensions 25.0 × 17.5 cm
Pages 110
Year of publication

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SKU: ILBL Categories:

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