Hal Far Airfield 1923 - 1945
 
 The Second World War


Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6

In December 1940 six of the Swordfish from No. 821 Naval Air Squadron embarked as 821X Flight from HMS Argus. These later combined with the remaining No. 815 and 819 Navy Air Service and became known as No. 815 Navy Air Service at Hal Far.

Most of the raids continued in early 1941. On 5th March 1941, a major dive-bombing attack by over 60 aircraft took place, severely damaging buildings and barracks at Hal Far airfield.

By April 1941, three batches of Hurricanes arrived. This enabled the formation of 185 Squadron by May of the same year. The enemy must have spotted these movements and on 7th June 1940 Italian fighters machine-gunned Hal Far. On 11th June, 185 Squadron Hurricanes intercepted Macchi 200s over Hal Far, and shot down several of down, losing one Hurricane in the process.

As the Luftwaffe left Sicily to return to the Russian front, bombing in Malta decreased. The Fleet Air Arm strengthened its air defence from the No. 800X Navy Air Service of HMS Furious and the nine Fairey Fulmar fighters which operated from Hal Far together with the Fairey Albacores of the No. 828 Naval Air Squadron from HMS Ark Royal.

Together with the Swordfish from the No. 830, the No. 828 undertook day and night intruder air raids from Hal Far on Sicilian airfields and installations as well as mine-laying and torpedo attacks. Both the 828 and 830 squadrons played a significant role in the eventual defeat of Rommel and the Afrika Korps. On 26th March 1942, the two squadrons became known as the Royal Naval Air Squadron Malta. Both squadrons are collectively credited for sinking 30 enemy ships and damaging 50 others.

The Luftwaffe returned back to Sicily in 1941/42 winter period. Raids on the Maltese Islands intensified. Hal Far airfield was hit several times on various occasions which resulted in the loss of several planes, airfield buildings and personnel. The Malta Hurricanes were being out-classed by the German Messerschmitt Bf 109s.

On April 17th, 1942, the island of Malta wins a decoration medal for bravery. King George VI, awards the island the order of the George Cross but the award ceremony is cut short by the arrival of another axis bombing.

The George Cross, one of the rarest medals in the world was awarded for outstanding fears of valour outside the service. King George VI had a keen interest in Malta and when he heard that the island was being hit so badly and its people were starving, he came up with the bright idea of giving a special George Cross to the Island. This is the only case where such a medal was given to a piece of territory rather than to an individual.