MALTA’S NIGHT FIGHTERS

HURRICANES SERVED AS THE ISLAND’S NOCTURNAL DEFENDERS IN 1941 AND 1942, AS ANDREW THOMAS RECOUNTS

Hurricane IIb Z2961, flown by Plt Off David Barnwell when he shared the destruction of a Cant Z1007bis on September 5, 1941 to claim his fifth victory.
P H P ROBERTS

For more than a year the strategically important island of Malta had been subjected to attack from Sicily-based bombers of the Italian Regia Aeronautica and the Luftwaffe. By the summer of 1941 most German units had been withdrawn to support the invasion of Russia and, with their vulnerability by day, the Italians had increasingly switched to night raids.

So the Air Officer Commanding (AOC) Malta, AVM Sir Hugh Pugh-Lloyd, decided to form a dedicated night flight from his existing squadrons, and on July 30 the Malta Night Fighter Unit (MNFU) was born at Ta’ Qali – commanded by 25-year-old Sqn Ldr George Powell-Shedden, a veteran of the Battle of Britain who had recently arrived on the island.

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