Victims who died when time bombs were dropped on Żejtun on May 2, 1942, will tomorrow be commemorated in a day of remembrance being organised by the Żejtun local council, accompanied by the locality’s three band clubs and some parish organisations.
Several delayed action bombs were dropped by Luftwaffe Junkers 88 bombers that morning.
Time bombs landed to the south of the road from Żejtun to Tarxien. Many of the bombs did not explode on impact. They detonated later, destroying several houses, instantly killing 21 civilians and wounding 30 by the blasts (seven of whom died later).
According to Malta: War Diary website, the JU 88s dropped eight bombs near Żejtun church and on houses south of Żejtun-Tarxien road.
The most common of such bombs used by the Luftwaffe were known as Butterfly Bombs, (Sprengbombe Dickwandig 2 kg or SD2).
They were named so because of a thin cylindrical metal outer shell which hinged open when the bomblet deployed – this gave it the superficial appearance of a large butterfly.
The design was very distinctive and easy to recognise. Butterfly bombs contained 225 grams of TNT. They were generally lethal to anyone within a radius of 10m and could inflict serious shrapnel injuries (e.g. deep penetrating eye wounds) as far away as 100m.
These bombs left a devastation in front of the church. Back then, parishioners were coming out of church following the morning Mass, so the bombs found them exactly on the church parvis.
There were also people in the few shops which existed and were open at that time, one of them a barber right in front of the church.
At that time the owner was busy serving his clients and shrapnel burst through the door leaving one of his clients, medical doctor Emmanuel Hyzler dead in his hands.
He was one of the 27 victims of this tragedy. In all, 10 females and 18 males died, eight of them were under 14 years, with the youngest one being Mary Rose Felice, aged five.
The names of these victims are listed on a marble plaque which was placed at the corner between Republic Square and St Catherine Street on May 2, 1967.
The parish church also suffered permanent damages by the blast.
The lower part of the façade of the church parvis still carries the scars of the splinters from the bomb.
During the memorial, all 113 Żejtun victims of WWII, including a baby of just five days, will be remembered.
A detailed description of what happened in that tragedy and poems will be read by the Żejtun Literature Group.
The Żejtun mayor will be laying flowers during the post by the fanfare by scouts members.
All this is being held on the parvis of the parish church and in front of the war victims plaque in Republic Square, tomorrow at 11.30am.
• The activity is being organised on the initiative of the Culture and Tourism Section, in the Żejtun local council, chaired by councillor Sean Chircop.
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