The most intensely bombed place on Earth, Malta’s survival and offensive actions are the stuff of legends. A very small population, on the brink of starvation, held out against a mighty aerial armada for some three years in an epic fight to survive and strike back. – Highly Recommended.
AME: Fortress Island Malta, Defence & Re-supply During The Siege
FILE: R2514 AUTHOR: Peter Jacobs PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword BINDING: hard back PAGES: 228 PRICE: £25.00 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: WWII, World War 2, World War II, Second World War, RAF, MTBs, MGBs, Malta Convoys, Hurricane, Sea Gladiator, Spitfire, Beaufighter, U Class Submarines, box barrage
IMAGE: B2514jpg BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/ksnk3s5 LINKS: DESCRIPTION: The most intensely bombed place on Earth, Malta's survival and offensive actions are the stuff of legends. A very small population, on the brink of starvation, held out against a mighty aerial armada for some three years in an epic fight to survive and strike back. - Highly Recommended. Malta was a vital strategic location in the Mediterranean. It sat between Gibraltar and Alexandria. Had Malta been lost to the Axis forces, Britain would have had to rely entirely on shipping men and materials around Cape Hope, between Britain and the key eastern nations of India and Australia/New Zealand. Attacking supplies being shipped to Rommel in North Africa and maintaining supplies to the British army in Egypt would have been near impossible. The loss of Egypt and the Suez Canal was the most likely consequence of the loss of Malta. In 1940, there was very little on Malta in the way of defensive capability but it was sandwiched between Italian and Vichy North Africa and Sicily and the Italian mainland. With a large air force, the Italians should have been able to subdue and capture the Island of Malta. When the Italians failed, the Germans sent a well-equipped and battle hardened air fleet south to Italy to renew the assault on Malta and built an air force in Libya to support Rommel's Afrikakorps, with a secondary capability of joining the assault on Malta and escorting supply convoys from Italy to Rommel. If that scenario had been presented to a military planner, the conclusion would have been that Malta would fall and fall quickly. That it survived and fought back is incredible. The people of Malta were not universally in favour of withstanding a siege, many having relatives in Italy and Sicily. The British and Commonwealth military personnel on Malta in 1940 were small in number and there were no fighter aircraft and few anti-aircraft guns. Even the Royal Navy presence was modest with most vessels of value having been moved to Gibraltar and Alexandria. What was present in volume was determination and the bloodymindedness to survive and win against impossible odds. With Italy declaring war following the Battle of France, Malta suddenly became very vulnerable because of its position in the Mediterranean and its obvious strategic importance to Britain. In response there was an urgent search for anything on Malta that would assist its defence and urgent plans to ship in fresh supplies and arms across a hostile sea. Ammunition and guns were carefully catalogued and placed where they would be most effective. The RN planned a box barrage using the guns of all warships in port. There was also the discovery of a number of FAA Sea Gladiators in crates. From these, four aircraft were initially assembled and put into service, to be flown by volunteers, several past the age for fighter pilots. These biplanes did have some merit. They had a closed cockpit, four forward firing rifle calibre machine guns, two wing mounted and not requiring interrupter gear to protect the propeller, effective gun sights and radio. That did not disguise the fact that they were slow and under-gunned against the new generations of metal monoplane fighters, many carrying canon and heavy machine guns. Never-the-less these aircraft were flown with courage and flare, shooting down enemy attackers and boosting island morale. The supply convoys became another legend as they fought their way to Malta from Gibraltar. They included aircraft carriers that flew off Hurricanes and Spitfires as soon as the fighters were in range of Malta. Some aircraft ran out of fuel and crashed before they reached the island but most succeeded in joining the defences and greatly enhancing them. Even so, the island was short of fuel and ammunition for the defence and short of food for the military and civil populations. More anti-aircraft guns arrived with the convoys and the number of warships in port increased, extending the box barrage protecting the Grand Harbour and taking an increasing toll of enemy attackers. As urgent efforts were being made to supply the people and strengthen the defences, efforts were also being made to increase the offensive capabilities to enable the island to become an attack base to destroy the supply convoys from Italy to Rommel. To make that possible, aircraft, submarines and fast attack boats were sent to Malta and they operated with great success against Axis ships and aircraft trying to supply Rommel. History records the victory of the people of the British and Commonwealth forces and the people of Malta, the visit of King George VI at great personal risk, and his decision to award the George Cross to the entire island and people. This book tells the many stories that made up that survival, victory and offensive action.