St. Peter’s Battery in Kalkara

maltese english

Extract from Maltascapes, Maltaramc and Maltagc70

St Peter´s battery is British Anti-aircraft Artillery Battery built and used for the defence of Malta in World War II. The battery was armed with four QF 4.5 inch Guns set in semi-circular formation. Each Gun emplacement included 3 concrete ammunition bins and an underground crew accommodation or shelter. The 4.5inch anti-aircraft gun was an adoption of the 4.5″ Naval gun and in 1938 this anti-aircraft gun was approved for land service. Some guns were fitted with a mild steel shield and were placed near the coast to be used in a dual anti-aircraft / coastal defence role. Rate of fire is eight rounds per minute, maximum horizontal range is 22,800 yards, maximum ceiling range is 44000 feet, Traverse at a 360 degrees and the anti-aircraft high explosive shell wight 58 pounds.

The Battery includes two hardened concrete bunkers which where probably used as munitions magazines and a central bunker which was the Battery´s main fire control station. There is also an old two story farmhouse which was converted into a blockhouse for perimeter defence as it contains a number of firing ports and probably also served as an observation post. A Hut at the far end of the Battery´s perimeter served as the mess hall and chapel. St Peter´s Battery saw significant action during the Axis Air Raids on Malta in World War II suffering significant damage including direct hits which resulted in a number of casualties and fatalities for the RMA (Royal Malta Artillery) personnel assigned there. Evidence of the fighting can still be seen today as all the structures in the battery are pockmarked with shrapnel and cannon fire.

Zabbar Advanced Dressing Station (ADS), which in November 1940, St Joseph Orphanage Zabbar was converted into an ADS, collected casualties from the Regimental Aid Posts (RAPs) at Fort Ricasoli and San Pietru Anti-Aircraft Battery among others. The staff consisted of five medical officers, with another two attached to MAP Tarxien. About 14 Malta Auxiliaries (MACs) served as cooks and drivers. The Zabbar Advanced Dressing Station had 20 beds; patients with minor illnesses or those needing treatment for skin infections were kept for an average of three to five days. Morning sick parades were arranged for local units, which saved on transport.

1942 Kalkara map

Following the gradual withdrawal of British Forces form Malta in the 1970´s the site ended up being used as an animal farm with many structures converted into animal holding pens, even so most of the structures are still intact and in a fairly good condition but the Battery is under threat of demolition in order to make way for modern housing as part of the Smart City development project.


St. Peter’s Battery in the Malta War Diary

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 JUNE TO DAWN 1 JULY 1940
Weather Fine.

09:40–10:15 hrs – Air raid alert for two formations, each of four Italian SM79 aircraft, fly over the Island, dropping a total of 42 bombs. Two Hurricane aircraft are scrambled but do not intercept. One formation crosses the Island from Marsascala, dropping bombs on San Pawl tat Targa seriously wounding a farmer, another near a water reservoir at Naxxar, four on roads between Birkirkara and Mosta and six near Ta Qali reservoir, wounding five civilians. The raiders turn and head for St Paul’s Bay, dropping their remaining bombs in the sea. The second formation comes in from Grand Harbour, dropping bombs on San Pietru, Kalkara and San Rocco, then head for Hal Far, dropping some 17 bombs, and on to Mqabba and Zurrieq before crossing the coast south of Dingli. Two civilians are killed and four wounded.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 29 JULY TO DAWN 30 JULY 1940
Weather Fine and warm.

09:52-10:27 hrs – Air raid alert for nine enemy fighters and two bomber swhich approach from the north in two formations. Malta fighters are scrambled but do not engage. Ack Ack guns at Tigne, San Giacomo, San Pietru, Marsa, Spinola, Manoel and HMS Terror engage the raiders. No bombs are dropped.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 JUNE TO DAWN 26 JUNE 1941
Weather Hot and sunny.

22:10-23:10 hrs – Air raid alert for a single enemy aircraft which approaches the Island from the north, unobserved by early warning systems. Bombs are dropped on San Pietru and in the sea north east of St Paul’s Bay. The air raid alert then sounds. During the raid several Malta aircraft depart on offensive operations, their navigation lights on and landing lights on the aerodrome exposed. Hurricane fighters are scrambled and engage the raider; no claims.

AIR RAIDS 30 DECEMBER 1941

03:58-04:30 hrs – Air raid alarm. One enemy aircraft approaches from the north and passes over Grand Harbour. Heavy Ack Ack fire three immediate barrages causing the enemy aircraft to change course on each occasion. Bombs are dropped on Corrodino area, with a direct hit on a latrine, injuring dockyard workmen who had taken shelter there instead of their designated refuge. Bombs near San Pietru Heavy Ack Ack Bofors gun position damage a billet. Three are killed, four injured.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 21 APRIL TO DAWN 22 APRIL 1942
Weather Wind easterly; 50% cloud at 15000 feet.

16:12 hrs – Several formations of enemy aircraft approach the Island in waves, dividing to attack Grand Harbour, Ta Qali, Luca and Safi. ME 109s flying low over the sector manned by 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment are engaged by their Ack Ack Platoon: no claims.
13 bombers attack the Grand Harbour area: San Pietru gun position is bombed.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 22 APRIL TO DAWN 23 APRIL 1942
Weather Strong south-westerly wind. 100% medium cloud.

17:50 hrs – 21 JU 87s and 26 JU 88s attack Grand Harbour, including Valletta and Floriana, Kalkara and the Dockyard. Bombs land between ADS Zabbar and the Cottonera Lines.

Bombers target several anti-aircraft guns. Two Light Ack Ack gun positions are hit by bombs, killing five Other Ranks and wounding seven, including one seriously. A bomb explodes close to Tal Handaq Heavy Ack Ack gun position wounding one Other Rank and putting two guns out of action. Others land close to San Pietru gun position, setting ammunition on fire, and Gudia searchlight position wounding one Other Rank.

AIR RAIDS DAWN 30 APRIL TO DAWN 1 MAY 1942
Weather Wind southerly: no cloud. Warm haze.

11:35 hrs – Bombs explode near San Pietru.