Hal Far Airfield 1923 - 1945
 
 The Second World War


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On August 12th, the Axis attack full force. The British through their carriers and anti aircraft fire are making their best to keep attackers away from their merchant ships. Finally 40 Stuka bombers go into a power dive. By evening both fleet and convoy reach a narrow channel where protective battleships and carriers cannot follow. The merchant ships must try and squeeze into the port with only a skeleton escort. The Germans try to take one last opportunity to attack. Torpedoes hit their mark. Five bombed merchant ships enter the Valletta harbour with food supplies. The slowly sinking tanker Ohio, an American ship with an all British crew staggers into the harbour with the much needed gasoline. Malta is saved!

The arrival of Albacores of the No. 821 Naval Air Squadron from Berka started mine-laying operations of Tunisian and Sicilian harbours as well naval bombardments at Pantellaria.

In April 1943 an Air Sea Rescue and Communications Flight was formed at Hal Far. This comprised of one Supermarine Walrus, a Bristol Beaufort, two Vickers Wellingtons and the last remaining Swordfish from the 830 Naval Air Squadron.

This particular Swordfish was apparently involved in a rather strange episode. As the story goes, the aircraft found itself short of fuel while on patrol and its crew reluctantly decided to land at the Italian island of Lampedusa, risking being taken prisoners. However as the Swordfish landed the civilian inhabitants ran towards the pilot and explained to him that they were ready to hand over the island to the British. The pilot, a certain Sergeant Cohen was not in a position to do this, as his rank was not high enough to enable him to receive the surrender of the island. The necessary arrangements were made with higher authorities, as he flew back to base after refuelling.

On 20th June 1943, Hal Far Airfield received a visit from His Majesty King George VI accompanied by Lord Gort, after the King had arrived from Tunisia on HMS Anson.

Another important visitor was Field Marshal Montogomery who was present on 4th July 1943, six days before the invasion of Sicily began.

The last time Hal Far airfield was bombed was on 21st May 1943. The raid was carried out by Focke Wulf Fw 190 fighter and fighter bombers escorted by Messerschmitt Bf 109s. The enemy were 36 in all. Little airfield damage was made but three Albacores and one Spitfire were lost against one German Focke Wulf to ground fire.

From 11th June 1940 till 21st May 1943, 2300 tons of bombs were dropped on Hal Far airfield. The A company of the Devon Regiment were so competent that the airfield was rarely unserviceable for a long period. During this period 30 were killed and 84 injured.