-o- RAF-Sgt.Barker's WW2 diary (Malta: 1941-1943)
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RAF Sergeant
Thomas Barker, BEM

World War Two Diary
1941 to 1943

introduced and transcribed by Lawrence M. Barker      

content: Lawrence M, Barker © 2004
editing: © 2004
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(Abridged Version)

RAF Sgt.Thomas Barker *529747*
828 Squadron, Hal-Far

transcribed from the original Diaries
by Lawrence M Barker BA(Hons), MCIWEM

Part Five
June - July 1942

1 Jun
Handed over the bar to Ravenhill, & then had the afternoon off to celebrate - went swimming. Went out to Marsaxlokk [pron. Marsa-shlock] & Zeitun [Zejtun, pron. Zey-toon] with Tubby Slater - the dusk air raid is still on - he dropped his dirt some minutes ago.

2 Jun
Nice quiet day again, except for 3 Cants which bombed Safi & scores of fighters doing a sweep, but the Spits shake them up now. HMSub. 'Porpoise' tied up at Kala Jetty last night - should be some mail.

click photo to enlarge

3 Jun
Duty today - lovely day too - very few raids. Was stood down at 6pm & at 10.30pm I had to get all the lads out of bed for a 'strike' - but we still got those planes off the deck early of schedule. Packed up at 6.0am.

4 Jun
Took the day off today; weather was nice & cool & cloudy. After lunch I went on the bike to Valletta, sent Margo a cable & £10 (hope she gets it) & then I went over to Birkirkara & Hamrun to have a shifti round.

5 Jun
Plenty of Air Raids today, but not much happened - it absolutely poured with rain today. Willie reckons he's going back to 185 - I will know where I stand then. A new bloke was put into our billet today - a HQ Med bloke - & he doesn't like it.

6 Jun
Plenty of activity today - Spits did good work patrolling   total of about 12 I think - went to Valletta this afternoon, it's as dead as door nails - came back & wrote to Marg - I received a lovely letter too.

7 Jun
Duty & Ord Sgt today - gee, this grub in the Camp is wicked. Nothing happened except for the usual dusk raid - Willy tells us he's going to 185 very soon. All my machines 'S' - I think...

Off-Duty Pass
8 Jun
Yes! after yesterday I can afford to take a day off. Went to Valletta to take my shoes & my watch. Not much doing there except 'big eats'. Hitched it back - went swimming after.

9 Jun
Went & sorted out the Flight since Willy has gone back to 185 - I guess I can cope without him OK though - all the S'fish are 'S' anyway - minor raids through the day & the usual dusk & night raids - did plenty of swimming.

10 Jun
Well, I'm damned! just got the kites well under way & the 'bloke' takes them off me for Curtis - apparently he can't cope with the Albacores - I take those over tomorrow. Bombed by CANTS after tea & then a dusk raid followed by all night effort - one dropped in the bay & blew all windows out.

11 Jun
Had a few letters from Margo today; very nice too - well!, everyone on the Island is sweating on the convoy getting here soon - troops standing by & everyone on the top line. I worked until 9.30 tonight on 'B' - I'm dead beat.

12 Jun
Well, I did think that I could have got 'B' OK so that I could have the noon off, but no joy - just mucked about in the evening - usual dusk & night raids.

13 Jun
Had the afternoon off & went to Valletta for my watch & shoes & had 'big eats' - I wonder what kind of a 'do' the Convoy is going to be - The Itis have a Fleet of 4 Bs. 8 Cv. 24 Drs in Taranto - we stand by from 0800 hrs tomorrow - Jerry tries to spitcher us again.

14 Jun
Soper - Davis & myself formed 'X' Flt to stand to for an emergency - crews in pens continuously - bags of shiroc about again - the last convoy had similar weather. Nothing doing all day but we sent an ASV out at 23.00. Scensored name didn't do much all day so Lofty Davis & myself palmed the night shift on to him.

15 Jun
06.30 - 'Welshman' off Delimara. 'Beaus' & Spits & Baltimores all snooping about.
09.00 - Albacores A.Y.X.B off on strike - went north east.
11.45 Albacores return - highly successfull - 4 hits on 2 Cruisers & 1 Dr. 'A' slightly shot up but destroyed a Macchi 202.
15.00 Albs. Y.B.X took off on strike against 2 Cruisers & 3 Drs. escorted by Spits part of the way. 'Welshman' travelling at top speed past Delimara at 15.00 having been turned round in Grand Harbour -
18.00 the Albacores Y.X came back - 'B' is adrift some place - Apparently they met up with 12 Macchis & 'B' was shot down - Paton was Observer.
Jerry came over & bombed again at about 10.30 & then later on at night - I didn't take much notice though - it's an impossibility to take cover on every warning here.

16 Jun
Eventually stood down from the 'readiness' do & reverted back to normal routine - after all the efforts only 2 ships out of 6 from the West reached here & the other Convoy turned back, it was a great disappointment to the Island generally having waited so long for the ships to arrive. Gort made a flannel speech about it in the evening - I caught a 'sneezer' on Night Flying again - had to get all the troops from their billets & had the kites standing by for a Cruiser at 11.00pm & blow me if they weren't stood down just as they'd taxied out - bags of excitement too when Jerry started dropping flares & bombs on the Strip.

Operation 'Harpoon' was intercepted some 120 miles southwest of Sardinia, as the convoy sailed from Gibraltar towards Malta.

Close to 100 aircraft from the Regia Aeronautica, consisting of Savoias, Fiats, Cants and Macchis, descended upon the Allied convoy and, despite the valiant resistance of less than a score defending Hurricanes and Fulmars, the Italians managed to inflict severe damage.

Another convoy set sail from the Eastern Med, but this too was intercepted, this time by the heavily armed Italian Navy and Luftwaffe aircraft, forcing what was left of the convoy to turn back.

17 Jun
After parade in the morning I took the day off - quite a lazy day too for a change; still it won't do me any harm - no air raids of any importance even though they're still unloading the ships.

18 Jun
Well, this food question is going from bad to worse, I guess something will have to be done about it quickly - beer rationed to 2 bottles a week too - phew! a few raids today but he's doing the bomb-throwing at night now.

19 Jun
A black day today - Jordan & Todd took 'Y' up for a trip & crashed - Todd was killed & Jordan smashed about - the only thing we found wrong before the kite blew up was the A/S in coarse pitch. Very quiet now with respect for Air Raids - had a quiet evening letter writing.

20 Jun
Fill this in before I turn in - feel nice & tired tonight after a half day in Valletta - Soper tells me his girl has broken off the engagement - poor chap? A nice bundle of mail from Margo, I guess this must be one of those days when I miss her a lot - especially after reading her letters - only three raids today.

21 Jun
Nothing much doing today with only one kite to look after. Had trouble with A.C. Gilbert & had to run him - Whitfield gave him CO's Report. Hell! what a 'do' Jerry gave us after dark - Flares even dropped around this billet - 'shakey do'. Start my four days leave tomorrow.

22 Jun
Went to Valletta with Watkins & Ging had big eats in the 'Gutz' afterwards went to the Flicks - saw a ropey show - at about 11.0pm hell let loose on the Island again - kites diving, bombs whistling & terrific clatter from the guns - one raider on fire.

23 Jun
Had to go up to Camp to see about the bloke I'd got on the rattle - remanded again - spent the day swimming & boating - hardly any air activity - terrific fireworks again after dark - Incendiaries mostly.

click image for full list

24 Jun
Had to attend the investigation about Gilbert's charge - had a swim in the afternoon & then went to the C&P.O's Club - first time for ages - I was asked several times as to where I'd been - thought I'd been drafted - erf - erf! Beaufighters' had a good night of it - four.

25 Jun
Gilbert got 5 days pay - old Lofty Davis fooling around with detonators blew his left hand off this morning. Last day of leave this - must write some mail. Finished the day with the usual dusk raid.

26 Jun
Another batch of P.O.'s made-up, I guess it will be a sq'dn' of N.C.O.'s shortly. Had my night duty tonight but was stood down at 10. The biggest explosion ever; in the sea by the cliffs; about 500 D.A's went up together - it was terrific.

27 Jun
Took the day off - too easy now with all these P.O's kicking about. Went & fetched my boots from Valetta. A terrible job travelling these days with all buses stopped for week-ends & everything else cut down.

28 Jun
Rather befuddled about the raids during the night - I guess I was tired. Well, it's a piece of cake now with all the new P.O's - able to have a half day again - a bit different from our first months & the winter.

29 Jun
Hell! these dawn raids of Jerrie's are blazers - about half an hour of the sharpest raids possible - he ceratinly fixed up our kites & his D.A.'s & stick bombs were scattered everywhere on the 'drome - we were setting them off by firing at them with rifles - Duty.

30 Jun
A bit quieter last night & had the afternoon off today. Went to Valletta for a chase round - the boy's aren't very optimistic over the Libya news. At the moment of writing another dusk raid has just started.

1 Jul
Nothing much doing today, Itis raided the Island but the Spits really got stuck into them. Horty Reid got a couple. Had one or two drinks with Marshall & Co the new P.O's - went swimming too - O.K!

2 Jul
Plenty of raids today - fighter sweeps & Itis doing high level stuff - very quiet in the Sq'dn', eventually made my way back down the goat track & went swimming - gee! it gets hot these days - wonder what the boys in Egypt are doing?

3 Jul
A beautiful day again, but one doesn't appreciate the weather here - I'd like to chase those Malts up about our rations - I reckon the starvation diet is easy compared with this - the Itis were busy again - trying to help their convoys.

4 Jul
A marvellous 'do' today - Spits & A.A. knocked down 3 bombers (Itis) & 4 fighter - one bomber fell the other side of Birzi - Took it steady today - goodness knows when we're going to get some 'strikes' - I guess this Naval Air Sq'dn' has 'wrapped up'.

5 Jul
Was intending to go to C&PO's but the lack of transport knocked it on the head for me - Nothing doing as usual, if 'trade' doesn't buck up I guess our pilots will have forgotten how to fly - the lucky guys who are drafted got their clearance chits.

6 Jul
What! 88’s & 109’s again - Lord help us if he starts that game again so soon - Takali & Hal-Far, 'Alabama' went down in his Spit - Itis followed up with a high level attack in the evening.

7 Jul
Jerry is certainly back again pasting the 'dromes, but he's losing more kites this time. As usual I was the Night Flying Jonah again - 1st night ops for week or two & I pick it up - 'X' was shot down & 'Q' pranged on the 'drome - a shakey 'do' over Messina.

8 Jul
Had the day off today - except for a couple of big Jerry raids nothing much happened - went with Lofty Marshall to the C&P.Os - had a quiet run out - Lime & Lemon bis.

9 Jul
Iti seems to be bent on duffing up the place now, but it's certainly costing them a lot in A/C & men - did the new Guard on the underground Fuel Installation - of course the O.O. would come round when I'm on - The grub is pretty grim!

10 Jul
Had the day off after the Guard. Went to Valletta with Ging & Lofty - saw the Investiture with Gort giving out the 'gongs! The usual high level raids carry on regularly. We had a run at Tombola while we were there but no luck. Managed to get haffna big eats.

11 Jul
Another easy day; I've got a feeling that the Sq'dn' will shortly wrap up & go somewhere; there's certainly no use in keeping us here with only two kites left. I suppose it depends on the Libyan 'do' as to whether we get any more kites - or a carrier.

12 Jul
Duty, & Ord. Sgt. today - its no good going round the Airmen's Mess either because they've nothing but rations 'bics'. As usual, I clicked, but at the last moment the strike was called off - out of range of Albacores again I suppose.

13 Jul
Took the day off again - I guess it's the only thing left to do. Dalton took charge of the Flight. I went to try & find a watch in Valletta - Itis came over in force this morning - we're getting short of Spits again.

14 Jul
As usual - beautiful weather & unable to enjoy it; big raids on T'akali & Luqa. Got the griff that I'm to be in charge of 80 men going to Luqa to work on Beauforts - anyway it will be worthwhile if only to help the war-effort.

15 Jul
Left for Luqa with 77 ratings, Lofty, Bill Lowe, Dalton & Jock Gorman. Managed to get everything going nicely when we arrived here, & taking into consideration the conditions here, that was pretty good going - Lt/C. Roe wished me best of luck - I'll need it.

16 Jul
Tried sorting out something from the Beaufort Flight, as usual no-one knew anything; in the end I packed my hand in digust & dismissed the blokes - if Luqa isn't interested I'm damned sure I'm not. Sub/Lt Mand came up in the afternoon he's doing liaison - I palmed all cans over to him.

17 Jul
Got organized a bit better today, not much work doing for the boys except changing around the pens. I procured an office today in face of fierce competition - not many buildings standing here. Went to Hal-Far to sort one or two things out.

18 Jul
Trouble! Wilson & Huckstep reported theft of all their kit - was up till after 12 searching. - Fixed office up temporarily - felt dickie so took afternoon off. Had interesting explanation of ration scheme - it appears that officially we're underfed.

19 Jul
A nice day today with another letter from Marg. I think I'm holding the detachment down O.K. This food question is serious now. The 'Welshman' went out last night but whether she dodged the Iti cruisers is not known yet.

20 Jul
Still not much doing here but I'm getting plenty of mail & that's something. After work Dalton & I went to Qormi & Hamrun shopping & fixing ourselves up with Sandals out of Maryland stuff. Beau's shot 4 down during the night.

21 Jul
Apparently the boys had an interesting time down at Birzi last night when a Jerry hit a Bofors pit killed 7. Shook the Mess a bit. The Beauforts went on a daylight strike - 1MV - 2DRS, MV & DR sunk. All kites returned a few being damaged. Had some more mail today - nice going.

22 Jul
Jerry has commenced activities again in style - spitchered 7 W.Kants on the 'drome with his 'crackerjacks' they're deadly. Went to see a punk show called the 'Whizz Bangs' - they were grim. Jerry paid us further visits during the night.

23 Jul
Nothing much doing in the way of flying - crews still standing by O.K. I've an idea the C.O. was pleased with the temporary organization. Went to Birzi after dinner to be at Hal Far for payment. Very dead there.

24 Jul
Six of our Beauforts went out on a daylight strike - 1 MV & several DR's - They got the MV but three kites were shot down. Jerry pasted the dispersals & spitchered another Beaufort. Drew my pay OK, but everyone else seemed to be short.

25 Jul
Packed up work early today. Nothing much doing - like every other station on Malta, this place runs by accident. Bill Lowe received draft orders for his Pilots' Course. Went into Hamrun with Charlie Dalton fixed the old sandals.

26 Jul
Three more ratings left us today seems as though someone is definitely trying to start relieving the Island. D.C's & Wimpeys; in fact any old thing is taking away a few at a time. Saw the 2800th raid today. 88’s still doing their stuff & still being spitchered.

27 Jul
Rode down to Hal Far today & Birzi & checked over the kit again - everyone there is all full up to the ears with buzzes about the FAA future on the Island - 5 more Beauforts arrived - three of them are being maintained by my blokes.

28 Jul
Beauforts made a strike - lost two & hit the target 1 M.V. The Spits still doing great & at tea time they fetched the whole of the 'plot' down - bags of 'flamers'

29 Jul
Nothing of interest happened during the morning: but the way the Spits fetched 3 88’s down in the evening was great - At the Camp concert the crew of the Beaufort who after being prisoners for 24 hrs captured an Iti float plane (Cant) complete with crew & flew it to Malta; were there giving us gen.

30 Jul
Went to Hal Far this morning & checked up on lost dobeying of mine. I don't think I like that place now so much as Luqa. Went to Qormi in the evening & fixed up some tailoring.

31 Jul
A few raids again today but he's getting a bit more opposition now - thank goodness! Went to Qormi this evening to collect my shirt & shorts - damn funny time I had trying to make the tiflar understand how I wanted the sewing done.

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