We arrived at Malta on Tuesday 14th January  just at dawn.
Valletta is a wonderful sight. We entered Grand Harbour and went alongside opposite to the Illustrious which certainly shows plenty of exterior signs of the damage she received on the 11th. The Gallant (destroyer) is also here with her entire forecastle blown off while in another dock the Decoy, another destroyer, has the stern missing. According to reports the Illustrious suffered over 150 casualties and terrific damage done from four direct hits from heavy calibre bombs. The loss of the Southhampton has not been admitted yet by England though they admit the ship has been hit. Such is war!
We were due to sail again that night but once again our plans were changed and after having received a draft of RN ratings on board – 150 all told – they had to pack up again and go to the Orion. Reports have it that the success of the convoys in getting through OK, to which we contributed our little bit, will bear very important fruit. Despite the heavy losses it is considered small price to pay. All I can say is that it must have been a very important convoy if that price was small.
On Wednesday January 15th I went ashore with Bland to see Valletta. What a day. For five hours we walked and walked. We spent three pence each, a great expense! We wanted to go over the Illustrious but I’d heard enough tales form others who’d viewed her. They are still getting bodies out of her and according to reports the stench of blood and death is too horrible! Reports have it that 8 1000lb bombs hit her, 35 planes destroyed and steering damaged. She had to come into harbour steering by her engines. She withstood seven hours bombing by wave after wave of German dive-bombers – one of the severest poundings one ship has ever withstood.
We ourselves had only just left her a little while so we escaped the trouble by the skin of our teeth. Soon after noon two torpedo-carrying aircraft appeared but their torpedos passed harmlessly astern. Then the main attack of three squadrons came over wave after wave. It appears that they came at an opportune moment for them (the Germans) as it was a total surprise, The Illustrious R.D.F gear having developed a fault at the time and most of her planes being below deck with the lift open . A lucky bomb fell into the lift causing most of the damage that was done to the interior of the ship. However she managed to make Malta OK. She will live to fight again.
January 16th a Thursday was almost curtains for us. I never want to go through the 2 ¾ hours of hell we endured on that sunny afternoon in Grand Harbour Valletta. About 1000 an aircraft alarm was sounded off but nothing came of it. W.K liberty run went ashore at 1300 but rather than endure Bland’s company again I decided to stay on board – much to my regret. About 1400 the alarm sounded and in about 15 minutes it started. Wave after wave of bombers came over and concentrated their attack on the corner of the dockyard where we were. As they approached the Illustrious and Perth put up a barrage. There must have been a solid wall of steel in the air but it seemed to have as much effect on the planes as if we were playfully hurling paper darts at them. The Illustrious had the appearance of a solid wall of flame. Tons of steel must have been hurled into the air, the din was appalling, a continuous roar of 4.7’’, 4’’, .5 multiple pompom, all contributed to the Hell’s inferno of fire and noise. Risking the full strength of this incredible barrage, which it seemed it was impossible for them to penetrate, they appeared to converge from all sides and diving in rapid succession they held their bombs till the last moment.