Siege of Malta 1940-42...

 

...from Pen & Sword

 

Title: Siege of Malta 1940-42

Author: Anthony Rogers

Publisher: Pen & Sword

ISBN: 978-1-78438-459-3

 

This new Images of War title looks at the story of Malta, the George Cross Island. The Introduction which starts off this photo collection provides the basic background, how it was the Italian Air Force that started the attacks on the island in 1940, joined by Luftwaffe units in 1941 although they were greatly reduced as the German units were withdrawn for service in both Russia and North Africa. At the start, the island had to depend on its' anti-aircraft guns and just a handful of old Sea Gladiators to provide fighter protection.
Divided into 8 chapters, the first shows us the Island Fortress, the Sea Gladiators which became known as Faith, Hope and Charity. Then it moves on to the next three, which show us the Air War in 1940, 1941 and 1942 respectively. We see the arrival of the first Hurricanes, which soon joined the fight, along with Wellington bombers as well as their Italian opponents, the Savoia S.79. Then the Germans arrived and bombing raids against RAF airfields at Luqa (now the island's main airport), Hal Far and Ta'Qali (now re-developed but home to the Malta Aviation Museum). More Hurricanes arrived but so did the Me Bf 109 and Ju 88 from the Luftwaffe. In 1942 there are now Spitfires on the island and we see plenty of aircraft wrecks, with RAF, Luftwaffe and Regia Auronautica all featured. As the book tells us, over 1,000 aircraft were brought down over the course of the battle. Chapter 5 covers the Artillery and the PBI, the ground forces who were on the receiving end of the bombing campaign. The other famous element of the Malta story is dealt with in chapter 6, the Malta Convoys. It took a huge effort from the Royal and Merchant Navies to get vital supplies through to the island and this section includes some Luftwaffe aerial photos showing attacks on allied shipping. In chapter 7 is coverage of The Most Bombed Place on Earth, where both the military garrison and the civilian population had to endure the dangers and the privations of the constant enemy attacks.
The final chapter of the book contains a fine selection of modern colour images showing Malta Today. These days much of the wartime damage is gone, as rebuilding has been completed. There are still some reminders to be found and we see some of them here. Malta today is a popular holiday destination for being warm while we endure the winter cold. In 2014 I visited the island for my eldest daughter's wedding. While I witnessed many in our hotel moving no further than the poolside for a week but we couldn't resist travelling around and visiting some of the history of the island. It is a welcoming place to visit and having taken in the view looking down on Grand Harbour in Valetta, quite stunning and still looking as it did in many wartime photos. Another good addition to the Images of War series.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.

Robin