Siege of Malta (World War II)

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This article is about the Siege of Malta during World War II. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_0

For other uses, see Siege of Malta (disambiguation). Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_1

Main article: British Empire in World War II Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_2

The Siege of Malta in World War II was a military campaign in the Mediterranean Theatre. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_3

From June 1940 to November 1942, the fight for the control of the strategically important island of the British Crown Colony of Malta, which pitted the air forces and navies of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany against the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Royal Navy. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_4

The opening of a new front in North Africa in June 1940 increased Malta's already considerable value. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_5

British air and sea forces based on the island could attack Axis ships transporting vital supplies and reinforcements from Europe; Churchill called the island an "unsinkable aircraft carrier". Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_6

General Erwin Rommel, in de facto field command of Axis forces in North Africa, recognised its importance quickly. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_7

In May 1941, he warned that "Without Malta the Axis will end by losing control of North Africa". Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_8

The Axis resolved to bomb or starve Malta into submission, by attacking its ports, towns, cities, and Allied shipping supplying the island. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_9

Malta was one of the most intensively bombed areas during the war. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_10

The Luftwaffe (German Air Force) and the Regia Aeronautica (Italian Royal Air Force) flew a total of 3,000 bombing raids, dropping 6,700 tons of bombs on the Grand Harbour area alone, over a period of two years in an effort to destroy RAF defences and the ports. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_11

Success would have made possible a combined German–Italian amphibious landing (Operation Herkules) supported by German airborne forces (Fallschirmjäger), but this did not happen. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_12

In the event, Allied convoys were able to supply and reinforce Malta, while the RAF defended its airspace, though at great cost in materiel and lives. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_13

In November 1942 the Axis lost the Second Battle of El Alamein, and the Allies landed forces in Vichy French Morocco and Algeria under Operation Torch. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_14

The Axis diverted their forces to the Battle of Tunisia, and attacks on Malta were rapidly reduced. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_15

The siege effectively ended in November 1942. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_16

In December 1942, air and sea forces operating from Malta went over to the offensive. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_17

By May 1943, they had sunk 230 Axis ships in 164 days, the highest Allied sinking rate of the war. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_18

The Allied victory in Malta played a major role in the eventual Allied success in North Africa. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_19

Background Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_0

Malta was a military and naval fortress, being the only Allied base between Gibraltar and Alexandria, Egypt. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_20

In peacetime it was a way station along the British trade route to Egypt and the Suez Canal to India and the Far East. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_21

When the route was closed Malta remained a forward base for offensive action against Axis shipping and land targets in the central Mediterranean. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_22

Owing to its exposed position close to Italy, the British had moved the headquarters of the Royal Navy Mediterranean Fleet from Valletta, Malta in the mid-1930s to Alexandria in October 1939. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_23

Malta is 27 km × 14 km (17 mi × 9 mi) with area of just under 250 km (97 sq mi). Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_24

It had a population of around 250,000 in June 1940, all but 3% or 4% of them native Maltese. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_25

According to the 1937 census, most of the inhabitants lived within 6.4 kilometres (4 mi) of Grand Harbour, where the population density was more than six times that of the island average. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_26

Amongst the most congested spots was Valletta, the capital and political, military and commercial centre, where 23,000 people lived in an area of around 0.65 km (0.25 sq mi). Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_27

Across Grand Harbour, in the Three Cities, where the Malta Dockyard and the Admiralty headquarters were located, 28,000 people were packed into 1.3 km (0.50 sq mi). Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_28

It was these small areas that suffered the heaviest, most sustained and concentrated aerial bombing in history. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_29

There were hardly any defences on Malta because of a pre-war conclusion that the island was indefensible. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_30

The Italian and British surface fleets were evenly matched in the region but the Italians had far more submarines and aircraft. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_31

The Admiralty had to protect the Suez Canal with the Mediterranean Fleet (Admiral Andrew Cunningham) and Gibraltar with Force H (Vice-Admiral James Somerville). Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_32

In October 1939, the Mediterranean Fleet was transferred eastwards to Egypt, stripping the island of its naval protection. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_33

Only the monitor HMS Terror and a few British submarines were still based at the island. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_34

When the Maltese government questioned British reasoning, they were told that the island could be defended just as adequately from Alexandria as from Grand Harbour, which was untrue. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_35

This led the Maltese to doubt the British commitment to defend the island. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_36

Despite concerns that the island, far from Britain and close to Italy, could not be defended, the British decided in July 1939 to increase the number of anti-aircraft guns and fighter aircraft on Malta. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_37

The British leadership had further doubts about whether to hold the island in May 1940, when during the Battle of France the French Prime Minister Paul Reynaud suggested that the Italian prime minister and dictator Benito Mussolini might be appeased by concessions, including Malta. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_38

After some discussion, Winston Churchill convinced the British War Cabinet that no concessions should be made. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_39

With the British home islands in danger, the defence of Malta was not the priority and it was lightly protected. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_40

Only six obsolete Gloster Sea Gladiator biplanes were stationed on the island, with another six in crates when, on 10 June 1940, Mussolini declared war on the United Kingdom and France. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_41

In the 1930s, Italy had sought to expand in the Mediterranean and Africa, regions dominated by the British and French. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_42

The Allied defeat in France from May–June 1940 removed the French Navy from the Allied order of battle and tilted the balance of naval and air power in Italy's favour. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_43

Upon declaring war, Mussolini called for an offensive throughout the Mediterranean and within hours, the first bombs had dropped on Malta. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_44

After the French surrender on 25 June, Mussolini tried to exploit the situation, conducting Operazione E the Italian invasion of Egypt in September. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_45

The 10th Army was crushed in Operation Compass, a British counter-stroke, and Adolf Hitler decided to come to the aid of his ally. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_46

In February 1941, the Deutsches Afrikakorps (DAK, German Africa Corps under General Erwin Rommel) was sent to North Africa as a blocking detachment (Sperrverband). Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_47

RAF and Royal Navy anti-shipping squadrons and submarines on Malta threatened the Axis supply line to North Africa and both sides recognised the importance of Malta in controlling the central Mediterranean. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_48

In 1940, an Italian assault on Malta stood a reasonable chance of gaining control of the island, an action giving the Italians naval and air supremacy in the central Mediterranean. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_49

The Mediterranean would have been split in two, separating the British bases at Gibraltar and Alexandria. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_50

The reluctance of the Italians to act directly against Malta throughout 1940 was strengthened by the Battle of Taranto, in which much of the Italian surface fleet was put out of action by Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm torpedo bombers. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_51

The Italians adopted an indirect approach and cut off the island. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_52

To the Italians (and later the Germans), air power was the key weapon against Malta. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_53

Italian siege (June–December 1940) Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_1

Italian air actions Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_2

Air power was the method chosen to attack Malta. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_54

The Regia Aeronautica began the aerial bombardment of the island from airbases in Sicily. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_55

On the first day, 55 Italian bombers and 21 fighters flew over Malta and dropped 142 bombs on the three airfields at Luqa, Hal Far and Ta Qali. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_56

Later, 10 Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM.79s and 20 Macchi C.200s flew over the island, with no air opposition. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_57

At the time of these first air raids, the defending fighters on Malta consisted of obsolete Gloster Sea Gladiators, in the Hal Far Fighter Flight. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_58

Ten Gladiators in crates for transit were assembled and as no more than three aircraft flew at once, were called 'Faith', 'Hope' and 'Charity'. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_59

The pilots were flying-boat and other fliers with no experience of fighter operations. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_60

One Gladiator was shot down but the rest managed to shoot down several Italian aircraft. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_61

The Italians flew at around 6,100 metres (20,000 ft) and the monitor HMS Terror and gunboats HMS Aphis and Ladybird opened fire. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_62

In the afternoon, another 38 bombers escorted by 12 fighters raided the capital. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_63

The raids were designed to affect the morale of the population rather than inflict damage to dockyards and installations. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_64

A total of eight raids were flown on that first day. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_65

The bombing did not cause much damage and most of the casualties suffered were civilian. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_66

No interception of the raiders was made because there was no RAF force ready to meet them. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_67

No RAF airfield on Malta was operational at that time; one, at Luqa, was near to completion. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_68

Despite the absence of any operational airfields, at least one RAF Gladiator flew against a raid of 55 Savoia Marchetti SM 79 and their 20 escorting fighters on 11 June. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_69

It surprised the Italians, but the defences, almost non-existent on the ground and in the air, failed to impede the Italian force. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_70

On 12 June an Italian aircraft on a reconnaissance flight over Malta was shot down. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_71

An odd development took place on 19 June. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_72

Twelve Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers flew into the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) base at Hal Far, 767 (Training) NAS, having escaped from southern France following the French capitulation. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_73

They flew to the French colony of Tunisia, but insecurity compelled them to seek friendlier surroundings. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_74

The FAA aircraft were to form the nucleus of what was to become 830 Naval Air Squadron, providing Malta with its first offensive strike aircraft. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_75

Before June was out, they raided Sicily and sank one Italian destroyer, damaged a cruiser and destroyed oil storage tanks in the port of Augusta. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_76

By the start of July, the Gladiators had been reinforced by Hawker Hurricanes and the defences organised into No. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_77 261 Squadron RAF in August. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_78

Twelve aircraft were delivered by HMS Argus in August, the first of several batches ferried to the island by the carrier. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_79

A further attempt to fly 12 Hurricanes into Malta on 17 November, led by a FAA Blackburn Skua, (Operation White) ended in disaster with the loss of eight Hurricanes; they took off too far west of the island due to the presence of the Italian fleet and ran out of fuel, and several pilots were lost. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_80

A further two Hurricanes crashed, with one of the pilots rescued by a Short Sunderland flying boat. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_81

The arrival of more fighters was welcome. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_82

After eight weeks, the original force of Hurricane units was grounded owing to a lack of spare parts. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_83

By the year's end, the RAF claimed 45 Italian aircraft had been shot down. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_84

The Italians admitted the loss of 23 bombers and 12 fighters, with a further 187 bombers and seven fighters having suffered damage, mainly to anti-aircraft artillery. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_85

Invasion plan DG10/42 Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_3

In 1938 Mussolini had considered an invasion of Malta under Plan DG10/42, in which a force of 40,000 men would capture the island. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_86

Nearly all 80 purpose-built sea craft that would land the Italian Army ashore were expected to be lost but landings would be made in the north, with an attack upon the Victoria Lines, across the centre of the island. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_87

A secondary landing would be made on Gozo, north-west of Malta and the islet of Comino, between the two. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_88

All of the Italian navy and 500 aircraft would be involved, but the lack of supplies led the planners to believe that the operation could not be carried out. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_89

With the German success in the Battle of France from May–June 1940, the plan was reduced to 20,000 men with the addition of tanks. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_90

The Allied defeat in France gave the Italians an opportunity to seize Malta but Italian intelligence overestimated the Maltese defences and Mussolini thought that an invasion would be unnecessary once Britain made peace. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_91

Mussolini also expected Francoist Spain to join the Axis and capture Gibraltar, which would close the Mediterranean to the British from the west. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_92

War at sea Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_4

The reluctance of the Italian Admiralty to act was also due to other considerations. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_93

The Italians believed they could keep the Royal Navy's fleet of ageing battleships bottled up in Alexandria. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_94

Another factor was the lack of crude oil (the Italians did not discover the large reserves in Libya during their occupation of the country). Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_95

The Germans took most of the oil from Romania and left few resources for Italy to pursue large-scale operations in the Mediterranean. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_96

Not only did this preclude any large-scale naval operations, it also left the Italians without adequate fuel for combat training at sea. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_97

By the start of 1941, a limited petroleum stockpile meant only seven months of fuel could be guaranteed. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_98

On the other hand, British confidence was eroded when aircraft began to dominate the actions at sea later on in 1941 and 1942, as the Royal Navy had long been expected to be the principal defender of the island. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_99

Cunningham brought to light the reluctance of the Italian Navy to engage by probing their defences. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_100

On 9 July 1940, the Battle of Calabria was the only time the main Italian and British (with supporting Royal Australian Navy vessels) fleets engaged each other. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_101

Both sides claimed victory, but in fact the battle was inconclusive, and everyone returned to their bases as soon as possible. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_102

It confirmed to the Maltese people that the British still controlled the seas, if not from the Grand Harbour. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_103

This was confirmed again in March 1941, when the Royal Navy decisively defeated the Italian Navy in the Battle of Cape Matapan. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_104

The Italians had been heading to intercept the British convoys transporting reinforcements to aid Greece in the Greco-Italian War. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_105

The naval contest in the Mediterranean between the British and the Italian navies is generally considered to have been a draw. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_106

British counter-attacks Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_5

When it became clear to the British that the Italian air forces were limited and having little impact on the population, which could endure, a steady stream of reinforcements arrived. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_107

The potential of the base was realised and Whitehall ordered further aircraft into the island; including Hurricane fighters, Martin Marylands, Sunderlands, Vickers Wellingtons, more Swordfish and submarines. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_108

It provided an increasingly potent offensive arm. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_109

The Wellingtons arrived in October, from No. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_110 148 Squadron RAF. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_111

Meanwhile, the Italian invasion of Egypt had failed to achieve its goals and the British counter-offensive, Operation Compass, destroyed several divisions of the Italian army at Cyrenaica. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_112

The diversion of the North African Campaign drew away significant Italian air units which were rushed from Italy and Sicily to deal with the disasters and support the Italian ground forces embattled in Egypt and Libya. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_113

The relief on Malta was significant as the British could now concentrate their forces for offensive, rather than defensive operations. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_114

In November 1940, after months of poorly coordinated Italian air strikes, the FAA and Royal Navy struck at Italian naval forces in the Battle of Taranto, a victory for sea-air power and definite proof that aircraft could wreak havoc on naval vessels without air cover. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_115

Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers disabled a number of Italian heavy units during the battle. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_116

The withdrawal of the Italian fleet to Naples, out of reach of British aircraft, was a strategic victory which handed naval supremacy to the British for the time being. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_117

The Royal Navy's submarines also began a period of offensive operations. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_118

British U-class submarines began operations as early as June. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_119

Larger submarines also began operations, but after 50% losses per mission, they were withdrawn. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_120

U-class submarines operated from the Manoel Island Base known as HMS Talbot. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_121

Unfortunately no bomb-proof pens were available as the building project had been scrapped before the war, owing to cost-cutting policies. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_122

The new force was named the Tenth Submarine Flotilla and was placed under Flag Officer Submarines, Admiral Max Horton, who appointed Commander G.W.G. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_123

Simpson to command the unit. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_124

Administratively, the Tenth Flotilla operated under the First Submarine Flotilla at Alexandria, itself under Cunningham. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_125

In reality, Cunningham gave Simpson and his unit a free hand. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_126

Until U-class vessels could be made available in numbers, British T-class submarines were used. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_127

They had some successes, but suffered heavy losses when they began operations on 20 September 1940. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_128

Owing to a shortage of torpedoes, enemy ships could not be attacked unless the target in question was a warship, tanker or other "significant vessel". Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_129

The performance of the fleet was mixed at first. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_130

They sank 37,000 long tons (38,000 t) of Italian shipping, half of which was claimed by one vessel, HMS Truant. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_131

It accounted for one Italian submarine, nine merchant vessels and one motor torpedo boat (MTB). Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_132

The loss of nine submarines and their trained crews and commanders was serious. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_133

Most of the losses were due to mines. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_134

On 14 January 1941, U-class submarines arrived, and the submarine offensive began in earnest. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_135

Luftwaffe arrives (January–April 1941) Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_6

German intervention Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_7

German intervention over Malta was more a result of the Italian defeats in North Africa than Italian failures to deal with the island. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_136

Hitler had little choice other than to rescue his Italian ally or lose the chance of taking the Middle Eastern oilfields in Arabia. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_137

The Deutsche Afrika Korps (DAK or Africa Corps) under Erwin Rommel was dispatched to secure the Axis front in Africa in February 1941. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_138

Operation Colossus signalled a dramatic turn around. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_139

The Germans launched Operation Sonnenblume, which reinforced the Italians in North Africa. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_140

They then began a counter-offensive and drove the British back into Egypt. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_141

But operating overseas in Africa meant most of the supplies to Axis forces would come via the sea. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_142

This made Malta a dangerous threat to Axis logistical concerns. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_143

In response, the Oberkommando der Luftwaffe (OKL or Air Force High Command) sent Fliegerkorps X (Flying Corps Ten) to Sicily, which arrived in January 1941, to strike at naval forces in and around Malta, and RAF positions on the island, to ease the passage of supplies. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_144

The British submarines failed to interdict the German ships transporting the German forces to Libya. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_145

The damaging of the 7,889-ton German ship Duisburg was the only noteworthy attack. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_146

On 9 February 1941, three submarines missed the same convoy bringing supplies to Tripoli, the principal Italian port in Libya. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_147

The port facilities could unload six ships at a time, making the port the best facility west of Alexandria, 1,600 km (990 mi) to the east. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_148

A large part of the Axis defensive success was due to naval mines. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_149

The Italians deployed 54,000 mines around Malta to prevent it being supplied. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_150

These mines were the bane of the Royal Navy's submarines. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_151

Around 3,000 mines were laid off Tunisia's coast by Italian naval forces as well. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_152

The failure to intercept Axis shipping was evident in the figures which extended far beyond February 1941. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_153

From January–April, the Axis sent 321,259 tons to Libya and all but 18,777 tons reached port. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_154

This amounted to a 94% success rate for convoy safety running the British interdiction. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_155

Of the 73,991 men sent by sea, 71,881 (97%), arrived in Africa. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_156

On 10 December 1940, Fliegerkorps X, under the command of Hans Ferdinand Geisler, and with support of his chief of staff Major Martin Harlinghausen, was ordered to Sicily to attack Allied shipping in the Mediterranean. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_157

By the start of the first German operation, Geisler had 95 aircraft and 14,389 men in Sicily. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_158

Geisler persuaded the OKL to give him four more dive-bomber gruppen (Groups). Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_159

On 10 January, he could muster 255 (179 serviceable) aircraft including 209 dive and medium bombers. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_160

By 2 January 1941, the first German units reached Trapani on Sicily's southern coast. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_161

The Luftwaffe's two units were both Junkers Ju 87 Stuka Gruppen (Groups). Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_162

The first was I./Sturzkampfgeschwader 1 and II./Sturzkampfgeschwader 2 (I and II Group Dive Bomber Wings 1 and 2). Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_163

The units numbered some 80 Ju 87s. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_164

This led to a notable increase in the bombing of Malta. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_165

A Stabsstaffel of Sturzkampfgeschwader 3 (StG 3) arrived. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_166

Oberstleutnant Karl Christ, Geschwaderkommodore of StG 3 gave orders to intercept heavy units. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_167

One particular target was aircraft carriers. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_168

Days later, he ordered the Ju 87 gruppen to sink the new carrier HMS Illustrious. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_169

It had played the key role in the Battle of Taranto, handing naval supremacy to the British, hence it became top of the Axis' target list. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_170

Excess and Illustrious "blitz" Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_8

The Luftwaffe crews believed four direct hits would sink the ship and began practice operations on floating mock-ups off the Sicilian coast. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_171

The vast flight deck offered a target of 6,500 square metres. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_172

An opportunity to attack the vessel came on 6 January. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_173

The British Operation Excess was launched, which included a series of convoy operations by the British across the Mediterranean Sea. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_174

On 10 January they were within range of the Ju 87 bases. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_175

II./StG 2 sent 43 Ju 87s with support from I./StG 1. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_176

Ten Italian SM 79s had drawn off the carrier's Fairey Fulmar fighters while the escorting cruiser HMS Bonaventure sank the Italian torpedo boat Vega. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_177

Some 10 Ju 87s attacked the carrier unopposed. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_178

Witnessed by Andrew Cunningham, C-in-C of the Fleet from the battleship HMS Warspite, the Ju 87s scored six hits. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_179

One destroyed a gun, another hit near her bow, a third demolished another gun, while two hit the lift, wrecking the aircraft below deck, causing explosions of fuel and ammunition. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_180

Another went through the armoured deck and exploded deep inside the ship. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_181

Two further attacks were made without result. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_182

Badly damaged, but with her main engines still intact, she steered for the now dubious haven of Malta. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_183

The attack lasted six minutes; killed 126 crew members and wounded 91. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_184

Within sight of Malta, Italian torpedo bombers also attacked the carrier, but were driven off by intense anti-aircraft fire. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_185

The British operation should not have been launched: Ultra had informed the Air Ministry of Fliegerkorps X's presence on Sicily as early as 4 January. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_186

They did not pass on the intelligence to the Admiralty, who probably would not have sailed within range of the Ju 87s if they had known. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_187

The RAF was in no condition to prevent a major German air attack, with only 16 Hurricanes and a couple of Gladiator aircraft serviceable. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_188

On 11 January 1941, 10 more Ju 87s were sent to sink Illustrious. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_189

They chanced upon the light cruisers HMS Southampton and Gloucester. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_190

Hits were scored on both; Southampton was so badly damaged her navy escorts scuttled her. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_191

Over the next 12 days, the workers at the shipyard in the Grand Harbour repaired the carrier under determined air attack so that she might make Alexandria. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_192

On 13 January, the Ju 87s, now equipped with SC 1000 bombs failed to achieve a hit. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_193

On 14 January, 44 Ju 87s scored a hit on the ill-fated after lift. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_194

On 18 January, the Germans switched to attacking the airfields at Hal Far and Luqa in an attempt to win air superiority before returning to Illustrious. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_195

On 20 January, two near misses breached the hull below the water line and hurled her hull against the wharf. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_196

Nevertheless, the engineers won the battle. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_197

On 23 January, she slipped out of Grand Harbour, and arrived in Alexandria two days later. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_198

The carrier later sailed to America where she was kept out of action for a year. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_199

The Luftwaffe had failed to sink the carrier. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_200

However, their losses were few—three aircraft on 10 January and four Ju 87s over several weeks—and the Germans had impressed the British with the effectiveness of land-based air power. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_201

They withdrew their fleet's heavy units from the central Mediterranean and risked no more than trying to send cruisers through the Sicilian Narrows. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_202

Both the British and Italian navies digested their experiences over Taranto and Malta. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_203

German and Italian air superiority Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_9

The appearance in February of Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-7 fighters of 7. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_204

Staffel (squadron) Jagdgeschwader 26 (26th Fighter Wing or JG 26), led by Oberleutnant Joachim Müncheberg, quickly led to a rise in RAF losses; the German fighter pilots were experienced, confident, tactically astute, better-equipped and well-trained. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_205

The Allied pilots on Malta had little combat experience and their Hawker Hurricanes were worn-out and for four months, JG 26 had few losses. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_206

The Luftwaffe claimed 42 air victories, 20 of them (including one over Yugoslavia) credited to Müncheberg. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_207

The RAF Hurricanes were kept operational by being patched up and cannibalised and their performance, already inferior to the Bf 109E-7, deteriorated. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_208

Five Hurricanes arrived at Malta in early March, another six on 18 March. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_209

but five Hurricanes and five pilots were lost. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_210

On 1 March, the Luftwaffe attacks on airfields destroyed all of the Wellingtons brought in in October. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_211

Royal Navy warships and Sunderland flying boats could not use the island for offensive operations, and the main fighter squadrons, Nos. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_212

261 and 274, were put under severe pressure. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_213

There were several raids per day and over 107 Axis attacks took place in February and 105 in March, with Bf 109 fighters strafing any signs of movement on the ground. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_214

By February around 14,600 men, ​⁄6 of the island's work force, had volunteered, rationing began reducing morale even more. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_215

and all males from ages 16 to 56 were conscripted to join the volunteers, the Royal Malta Artillery guarding Grand Harbour. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_216

The Allies had a success in April, with victory in the Battle of the Tarigo Convoy. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_217

Allied surface forces managed to sink only one small Axis convoy in daylight hours during the whole North African Campaign but on the night of 15/16 April, Axis ships were intercepted by Commander P. J. Mack's 14th Destroyer Flotilla, comprising HMS Janus, Jervis, Mohawk, Juno and Nubian. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_218

The destroyers sank Sabaudia (1,500 tons), Aegina (2,447 tons), Adana (4,205 tons), Isetlhon (3,704 tons) and Arta. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_219

The Italian destroyers Tarigo, Lampo and Baleno were sunk for the loss of Mohawk. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_220

The flotilla had been officially formed on 8 April 1941, in response to the need for a Malta Strike Force. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_221

This formation was to interdict Axis convoys. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_222

Commander Lord Louis Mountbatten's 5th Destroyer Flotilla was later ordered to merge with Mack's fleet to increase its striking power. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_223

The destroyers HMS Jackal, Kashmir, Kipling, Kelly, Kelvin and Jersey were a part of Mountbatten's fleet. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_224

The cruisers HMS Dido and Gloucester accompanied the ships as part of the force. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_225

The strike force had considerable success, which justified basing it at Malta despite the danger from air attack. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_226

On 21 May, the force was sent to join the Battle of Crete. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_227

It was several months before the depleted strike force returned. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_228

Further success was had by the Malta Convoys. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_229

An urgent supply convoy from Gibraltar to Alexandria (Operation Tiger) coincided with reinforcements for the Mediterranean Fleet, two small convoys from Egypt to Malta and 48 more Hurricanes flew off HMS Ark Royal and Furious in Operation Splice, with only the loss of the SS Empire Song, which hit a mine and sank with 10 Hurricane fighters and 57 tanks on board. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_230

Convoy Tiger transported 295 Matilda II tanks, new Crusader tanks and 24,000 tons of oil for operations in North Africa. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_231

They were completed on 12 May. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_232

I., II., and III. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_233

StG 1 made a determined effort against Tiger and Malta without result. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_234

The Axis air forces maintained air superiority; Hitler ordered Fliegerkorps X to protect Axis shipping, prevent Allied shipping passing through the central Mediterranean and neutralise Malta as an Allied base. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_235

Around 180 German and 300 Italian aircraft carried out the operation, and the RAF struggled to fly more than six or eight fighter sorties. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_236

Occasionally, 12 Hurricanes were flown in from British carriers but the replacements were soon used up. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_237

By mid-May, the central Mediterranean was again closed to Allied shipping and the DAK in North Africa was able to receive reinforcements, only 3% of its supplies, personnel and equipment being lost en route. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_238

From 11 April – 10 May, 111 Axis raids were carried out against military installations on Malta. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_239

Most of the heavy equipment in Grand Harbour was destroyed and the dry-docks could only be operated by hand. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_240

Efficiency of most workshops was reduced to 25% – 50%. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_241

During the first four months of German operations, the Luftwaffe dropped 2,500 tons of high explosives on Malta. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_242

It was many more times the tonnage dropped by the Italians, but far short of the amount dropped the following year. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_243

More than 2,000 civilian buildings were destroyed as opposed to only 300 during the Italian siege. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_244

Civilian casualties were low, and after the bombing of HMS Illustrious most civilians moved to safer surroundings in the countryside; by May 1941, nearly 60,000 people had left the cities, some 11,000 people (​⁄3 or 66% of the population) leaving Valletta. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_245

The British had concentrated on protecting military targets and few shelters were available for civilians. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_246

Eventually, 2,000 miners and stonemasons were recruited to build public shelters but the pay was poor and the miners threatened to strike, and were threatened with conscription into the army. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_247

The workers capitulated but instituted a go-slow, trebling the cost of the work. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_248

German withdrawal Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_10

In April, Hitler was forced to intervene in the Balkans which led to the campaign of that name; it was also known as the German invasion of Yugoslavia and included the Battle of Greece. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_249

The subsequent campaign and the heavy German losses in the Battle of Crete convinced Hitler that air drops behind enemy lines, using paratroopers, were no longer feasible unless surprise was achieved. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_250

He acknowledged that the chances of success in an air operation of that kind were low; German airborne forces did not undertake any such operations again. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_251

This had important consequences for Malta, as it indicated the island was only at risk from an Axis siege. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_252

When, in June, Hitler attacked the Soviet Union under Operation Barbarossa, Fliegerkorps X departed for the Eastern Front, and the Regia Aeronautica was left to continue its highly effective air campaign against Malta in the coming months. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_253

Geisler, commanding the remnants of Fliegerkorps X, could only count upon mine-laying aircraft from Kampfgeschwader 4 (KG 4) and Ju 87s in night operations. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_254

Supply issues were bad, the small German force left was forced to abandon operations on 22 April 1941. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_255

By early May 1941, the Luftwaffe had flown 1,465 bomber, 1,144 fighter and 132 reconnaissance missions for just 44 losses. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_256

III./Kampfgeschwader 30 (KG 30) and III./Lehrgeschwader 1 (KG 1) flew sporadic night attacks during April. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_257

Allied recovery (April–October 1941) Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_11

Hugh Lloyd Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_12

On 1 June, Air Vice Marshal Forster Maynard, Malta's Air Officer Commanding, was replaced by Air Commodore Hugh Lloyd. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_258

When he arrived on the island Lloyd found little to work with. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_259

Still, he had every intention of taking the offensive. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_260

Outside his office, in the underground headquarters at Lascaris, he hung a sign outside; "Less depends on the size of the dog in the fight than on the size of the fight in the dog". Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_261

Within a few hours Lloyd had made an inspection tour of the airfields and the main workshops at Kalafrana. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_262

The state of the island was worse than he expected. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_263

The slackening of German air activity had allowed the number of aircraft to increase, but the RAF still had fewer than 60 machines of all types. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_264

Maintenance was difficult. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_265

Hardly any spare or replacement parts were available—spares had to be obtained by sifting through the debris of wrecks or by cannibalising undamaged aircraft. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_266

Furthermore, the airfields were too small; there was no heavy equipment to work with; and even the commonest sorts of tools, such as hammers and wrenches, were all but impossible to find. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_267

All refuelling had to be done by hand from individual drums. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_268

The shelter was also inadequate, so there was little protection for what equipment they did have. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_269

Most aircraft were clustered together on open runways, presenting tempting targets. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_270

At Kalafrana, all the buildings were close together and above ground. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_271

The single engine-repair facility on Malta was located right next to the only test benches. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_272

Lloyd himself said, "a few bombs on Kalafrana in the summer of 1941 would have ruined any hope of Malta ever operating an air force". Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_273

Usually, the protection of air defences and naval assets on the island would have had priority. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_274

Certainly bringing in more supplies would have made greater strategic sense, before risking going on to the offensive and thus in turn risking the wrath of the enemy. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_275

But the period was an eventful one. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_276

In North Africa, the DAK was on the move and Rommel was pressing his army towards the Suez Canal and Alexandria in Egypt. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_277

RAF forces on Malta could not afford to sit idle; they could prevent Rommel's advance, or slow it down, by striking at his supply lines. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_278

Malta was the only place from where British strike aircraft could launch their attacks. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_279

Lloyd's bombers and a small flotilla of submarines were the only forces available to harass Rommel's supply lines into the autumn. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_280

Only then did the surface fleets return to Malta to support the offensive. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_281

Allied reinforcement Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_13

With the exception of coal, fodder, kerosene and essential civilian supplies were such that a reserve of 8–15 months was built up. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_282

Operation Substance was particularly successful in July 1941. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_283

The supplies included spares and aircraft. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_284

Around 60 bombers and 120 Hurricanes were now available. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_285

Around 65,000 tons eventually reached Malta in July despite heavy damage inflicted by the Italian navy and air forces. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_286

No supplies were sent in August, but Operation Halberd in September 1941 brought in 85,000 tons of supplies, shipped by nine merchant vessels escorted by one aircraft carrier, five cruisers and 17 destroyers. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_287

One cargo ship, the Imperial Star was sunk, and the battleship HMS Nelson was damaged by a torpedo. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_288

This convoy proved critical to saving Malta, as its supplies were deemed to be essential when the Germans returned in December. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_289

In mid-1941, new squadrons—No. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_290

185 and No. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_291

126—were formed and the defenders received the first cannon-armed Hurricane Mk IICs. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_292

Naval carriers flew in a total of 81 more fighters in April–May. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_293

By 12 May, there were 50 Hurricanes on the island. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_294

On 21 May, No. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_295 249 Squadron RAF arrived, taking over from No. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_296

261. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_297

46 Squadron arrived in June, to be renumbered 126 Squadron. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_298

In May 1941, 47 Hurricanes were flown into the island. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_299

From May–December, the first Bristol Blenheim units (No. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_300 113 Squadron RAF and 115 Squadron) began to arrive and Bristol Beaufighter units, 252 and 272 Squadrons. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_301

Malta was now being used as a base for supplying Egypt. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_302

Between July and December 1941, 717 RAF fighters passed through Malta and 514 left for North Africa. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_303

By early August, Malta now had 75 fighters and 230 anti-aircraft guns. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_304

Bristol Blenheim bombers also joined the defenders and began offensive operations. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_305

Besides preparing for offensive operations and reinforcing the RAF on the island, Lloyd also rectified many of the deficiencies. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_306

Thousands of Maltese and 3,000 British Army soldiers were drafted in to better protect the airfields. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_307

Even technical staff, clerks and flight crews helped when required. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_308

Dispersal strips were built, repair shops were moved underground from dockyards and airfields. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_309

Underground shelters were also created in the belief that the Luftwaffe would soon return. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_310

On 26 July, a night attack was carried out by Italian fast attack craft of the elite Decima Flottiglia MAS unit. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_311

The force was detected early on by a British radar facility, and the coastal artillery at Fort Saint Elmo opened fire on the Italians. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_312

In the attack, 15 men were killed and 18 captured, and most of the boats were lost. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_313

An MT boat hit St Elmo Bridge, which collapsed. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_314

The bridge was never restored, and it was only in 2011 that a new one was built in its place. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_315

Allied offensive Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_14

The Allies were able to launch offensive operations from Malta and some 60% of Axis shipping was sunk in the second half of 1941. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_316

The DAK and its partners were not receiving the 50,000 short tons (45,000 t) of supplies a month they needed, and as a result they were unable to resist a strong counter-offensive by British forces in Operation Crusader. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_317

In July 62,276 tons of supplies were landed by the Axis, half of the figure in June. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_318

In September 1941, 830 Naval Air Squadron sank or damaged the ships Andrea Gritti (6,338 tons) and the Pietro Barbaro (6,330 tons). Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_319

Ultra intercepts found that 3,500 tons of aerial bombs, 4,000 tons of ammunition, 5,000 tons of food, one entire tank workshop, 25 Bf 109 engines and 25 cases of glycol coolant for their engines were lost. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_320

Further success was had later in the month, although British losses from anti-aircraft fire from Italian ships were often heavy. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_321

One reason for accepting heavy losses was the difficulty in bombing accurately. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_322

Lloyd asked his bombers to attack at mast-height, increasing accuracy but making them easier targets for Italian anti-aircraft defences. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_323

Losses averaged 12% during this time. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_324

38 Squadron, 40 Squadron and 104 Squadron, equipped with Wellington bombers, hit Axis convoys in Tripoli. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_325

In concert with Royal Navy submarines, the RAF and FAA sank 108 Axis ships (300,000 grt) between June and September. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_326

In September, 33% of the 96,000 tons of supplies dispatched were lost to British submarine and air attack. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_327

Part of the reason for this favourable outcome in November 1941, was the arrival of Force K of the Royal Navy, which during the Battle of the Duisburg Convoy sank all the ships, which practically blockaded Libyan ports. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_328

Soon after, Force K was reinforced by the arrival in Malta of Force B with the light cruisers HMS Ajax and Neptune and the K-class destroyers, Kimberley and Kingston, on 27 November. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_329

Joint operations with the RAF were so effective that during November 1941, Axis fuel losses amounted to 49,365 tons out of 79,208 tons. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_330

Among the contributors to the sinking of Axis shipping was 828 Naval Air Squadron, 830 Naval Air Squadron, the British 10th Naval Flotilla and 69 Squadron which shadowed convoys with their Maryland aircraft. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_331

Special flights of RAF Wellingtons fitted with air-to-surface vessel (ASV) radar, were important to Force K operations, and Ultra intelligence reached Malta on Axis convoy movements. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_332

The RAF Malta Command would then dispatch the ASV-Wellingtons to sweep the seas and direct the British naval forces to the convoy. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_333

On 13 November, the carrier HMS Ark Royal— returning to Gibraltar after transporting aircraft to Malta—was sunk by a U-boat. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_334

Twelve days later, the battleship HMS Barham was sunk by a U-boat, followed by the light cruiser HMS Galatea on 15 December. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_335

On 19 December, ships from both forces ran into a minefield while pursuing an Italian convoy. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_336

Damage from the mines sank the cruiser HMS Neptune and damaged the cruiser Aurora. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_337

The destroyer HMS Kandahar was also mined while attempting to assist Neptune. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_338

Kandahar was scuttled the next day by the destroyer HMS Jaguar. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_339

Following the disaster and with a resurgence of the Axis aerial bombardment of Malta, surface ships were withdrawn from the central Mediterranean in January 1942. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_340

While Italian bombing was again proving successful against the British, the Luftwaffe returned in force in December 1941 to renew intensive bombing. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_341

The Kriegsmarine sent nearly half of all the German U-boats on operations in the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean to support the effort against Malta and by 15 December, half of these vessels were either in the Mediterranean, or en route, having to run the gauntlet past the RAF and the navy based in Gibraltar. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_342

Until the return of the Luftwaffe over Malta, the RAF defenders had claimed 199 aircraft shot down from June 1940 – December 1941, while losses were at least 90 Hurricanes, three Fairey Fulmars and one Gladiator in air combat; 10 more Hurricanes and one Gladiator destroyed in accidents and many more destroyed on the ground. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_343

Eight Marylands, two other aircraft, three Beaufighters, one Blenheim fighter and many bombers were also lost. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_344

No. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_345

185 Squadron claimed 18 destroyed, seven probable victories and 21 damaged for 11 killed or missing. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_346

Among those losses was Squadron Leader Peter "Boy" Mould. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_347

Actual Axis losses amounted to 135 bombers (80 German) and 56 fighters plus a number of other aircraft. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_348

Luftwaffe returns (December 1941 – August 1942) Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_15

Kesselring (OB Süd) Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_16

By June 1941, Geisler had been moved to Libya to support the DAK in the North African Campaign. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_349

In the Mediterranean and on Malta, the Allies recovered and began offensive operations against Axis shipping bringing supplies to the DAK in North Africa. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_350

The mounting shipping supply losses affected Geisler's ability to support Erwin Rommel and his forces, which caused tension between the Wehrmacht and the Luftwaffe. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_351

Geisler was to be returned to Sicily with his remaining air strength to solve the issue. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_352

However, the Germans backed down over Italian protests. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_353

On 6 October Geisler did extend his air sector responsibilities to cover the Tripoli-Naples sea route to curtail losses. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_354

On 2 October, Hermann Göring, commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe met with his Regia Aeronautica counterpart Francesco Pricolo, to discuss reinforcements. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_355

Hans Jeschonnek, Goring's chief of staff, suggested sending Luftflotte 2 and its commander Albert Kesselring to Sicily from the Eastern Front. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_356

Göring agreed, and was willing to send 16 Gruppen to Sicily, anticipating a Soviet collapse in the east; Fliegerkorps II (Bruno Loerzer), arrived in January 1942, with Kesselring as Oberbefehlshaber Süd (OB Süd, Commander-in-Chief South) from 1 December 1941. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_357

German pressure, Spitfire arrival Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_17

Messerschmitt Bf 110s and Ju 88 night fighters from Zerstörergeschwader 26 (ZG 26, or Destroyer Wing 26) and Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG 1 or Night Fighter Wing 1), were flown into Sicily to support Fliegerkorps II. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_358

They quickly eliminated Malta's striking force, which was beyond the range of fighter escort while over the Mediterranean. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_359

In the first two months, around 20 RAF bombers and reconnaissance aircraft were shot down. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_360

The success against Axis shipping soon dried up. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_361

The only notable triumph was the sinking of the 13,089-ton Victoria merchant ship, one of the fastest merchantmen afloat, by a Fairey Albacore of 826 Squadron, flown by Lieutenant Baxter Ellis, on 23 January. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_362

Over the island, the defensive arm of the RAF was also put under pressure. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_363

Kesselring began 1942 with a raid on New Year's Day, the 1,175th raid of the war. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_364

In January the RAF lost 50 Hurricanes on the ground and another eight shot down in combat. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_365

Of the 340 fighters that had passed through or stayed on the island since the war began, only 28 remained. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_366

The Axis conducted 263 raids in that month, compared to 169 in December 1941. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_367

Fliegerkorps II was recovering from its losses in the Soviet Union, and could only contribute 118 aircraft in January, but grew to 390 in March, reaching a peak strength of 425 aircraft. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_368

One-third of all raids were directed against airfields. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_369

At Ta' Qali, 841 tons of bombs were dropped, because the Germans believed the British were operating an underground hangar; the Germans used rocket-assisted PC 18000RS Panther bombs. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_370

The usual tactic involved a sweep ahead of the bombers by German fighters to clear the skies; this worked, and air superiority was maintained. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_371

Only slight losses were suffered by the bombers. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_372

One notable loss was the Geschwaderkommodore of KG 77, Arved Crüger. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_373

Around 94% of the strikes were made in daylight and the Italians supported the Luftwaffe by flying 2,455 sorties in February and March. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_374

Dobbie and the British naval and air commanders argued for modern aircraft, particularly Spitfires, to be sent to Malta. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_375

The AOC Middle East, Arthur Tedder, sent Group Captain Basil Embry to Malta to assess the situation. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_376

The pilots told Embry that the Hurricanes were useless and that the Spitfire was their only hope. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_377

They claimed that the Germans purposely flew in front of the Hurricanes in their Bf 109Fs to show off the performance superiority of their fighters. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_378

The squadron leaders argued the inferiority of their aircraft was affecting morale. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_379

Embry agreed and recommended that Spitfires be sent; the type began arriving in March 1942. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_380

Axis invasion plan Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_18

Main article: Operation Herkules Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_381

On 29–30 April 1942, a plan for the invasion of the island was approved by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini during a meeting at Berchtesgaden. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_382

It envisaged an airborne assault with one German and one Italian airborne division, under the command of German General Kurt Student. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_383

This would have been followed by a seaborne landing of two or three divisions protected by the Regia Marina. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_384

The Italians, in agreement with Kesselring, made the invasion of Malta the priority in the region. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_385

However, two major factors stopped Hitler from giving the operation the green light. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_386

The first was Erwin Rommel. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_387

Due to Kesselring's pounding of the island the supply lines to North Africa had been secured. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_388

He was able to gain the ascendancy in North Africa once again. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_389

Although Rommel believed Malta should be invaded, he insisted the conquest of Egypt and the Suez Canal, not Malta, was the priority. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_390

The second was Hitler himself. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_391

After the Battle of Crete in May–June 1941, Hitler was nervous about using paratroopers to invade the island since the Crete campaign had cost this arm heavy losses, and he started to procrastinate in making a decision. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_392

Kesselring complained. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_393

Hitler proposed a compromise. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_394

He suggested that if the Egyptian border was reached once again in the coming months (the fighting at the time was taking place in Libya), the Axis could invade in July or August 1942 when a full moon would provide ideal conditions for a landing. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_395

Although frustrated, Kesselring was relieved the operation had seemingly been postponed rather than shelved. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_396

RAF air superiority Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_19

Before the Spitfires arrived, other attempts were made to reduce losses. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_397

In February 1942, Squadron Leader Stan Turner arrived to take over 249 Squadron. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_398

Lloyd had requested a highly experienced combat leader be sent and Turner's experience flying with Douglas Bader over Europe meant he was qualified to lead the unit. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_399

He began the adoption of the loose finger-four formation in an attempt to cut RAF losses by introducing more flexible tactics to compensate for technical inferiority. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_400

The outmoded Hurricanes still struggled against the very latest Bf 109Fs of Jagdgeschwader 53 (JG 53) and Italian Macchi C.202s; the Junkers Ju 88 bomber also proved a difficult enemy. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_401

However, the Hurricanes did record occasional victories against the Bf 109Fs, during one attack in February 1942 only three managed to break up a raid by fifty Bf 109s. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_402

On 7 March 1942, a contingent of 16 Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vs flew to Malta from the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle as part of Operation Spotter. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_403

A further run by Eagle delivered nine Spitfires. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_404

The Club Run (delivery of aircraft to Malta by carrier) became more frequent through 1942. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_405

Then, USS Wasp despatched 47 more aircraft (Operation Calendar) on 13 April 1942. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_406

All but one reached the island. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_407

While the Spitfires were a match for the Axis aircraft, many of those delivered in March and April were destroyed on the ground and in the air, where they were outnumbered; for five days in April there was just one Spitfire available to defend the island, for two days there was none. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_408

The Germans had watched their delivery and pressed home heavy attacks. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_409

By 21 April 1942 just 27 Spitfires were still airworthy, and by evening that had fallen to 17. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_410

The overwhelming Axis bombardments had also substantially eroded Malta's offensive naval and air capabilities. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_411

By March–April 1942, it was clear the Luftwaffe had achieved a measure of air superiority. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_412

The Regia Aeronautica also pressed home attacks with determination. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_413

Often, three to five Italian bombers would fly very low over their targets and drop their bombs with precision, regardless of the RAF attacks and ground fire. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_414

Along with the advantage in the air, the Germans soon discovered that British submarines were operating from Manoel Island, not Grand Harbour, and exploited their air superiority to eliminate the threat. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_415

The base came under attack, the vessels had to spend most of their time submerged, and the surrounding residences where crews had enjoyed brief rest periods were abandoned. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_416

Mine-laying by Axis aircraft also caused a steady rise in submarine losses. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_417

By the end of March 1942, 19 submarines had been lost. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_418

The effectiveness of the air attacks against Allied naval assets was apparent in the Italian naval records. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_419

In April, 150,389 tons of supplies that were sent to North Africa from Italy reached their destination out of a total of 150,578. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_420

Hitler's strategy of neutralising Malta by siege seemed to be working. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_421

Kesselring reported to the German High Command that "There is nothing left to bomb." Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_422

The determination of the Axis effort against Malta is indicated in the sorties flown. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_423

Between 20 March and 28 April 1942, the Germans flew 11,819 sorties against the island and dropped 6,557 tons of bombs (3,150 tons on Valletta). Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_424

The Germans lost 173 aircraft in the operations. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_425

The Allies moved to increase the number of Spitfires on the island. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_426

On 9 May, Wasp and Eagle delivered 64 more Spitfires (Operation Bowery). Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_427

Malta now had five full Spitfire squadrons; No. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_428

126, 185, 249, 601 and 603 Squadrons. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_429

The impact of the Spitfires was apparent. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_430

On 9 May, the Italians announced 37 Axis losses. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_431

On 10 May, the Axis lost 65 aircraft destroyed or damaged in large air battles over the island. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_432

The Hurricanes were able to focus on the Axis bombers and dive-bombers at lower heights, while the Spitfires, with their superior rate of climb, engaged enemy aircraft at higher levels. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_433

From 18 May – 9 June, Eagle made three runs carrying another 76 Spitfires to Malta. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_434

With such a force established, the RAF had the firepower to deal with any Axis attacks. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_435

By the spring of 1942, the Axis air forces ranged against the island were at their maximum strength. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_436

The main adversaries for the defenders were the 137 Bf 109Fs of JG 53 and II./JG 3 'Udet' and the 80 Macchi C.202s of the 4th and 51st Stormo. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_437

Bomber units included 199 Junkers Ju 88s of II./Lehrgeschwader 1, II and III./Kampfgeschwader 77, I./Kampfgeschwader 54, and 32–40 Ju 87s. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_438

However, in May the numerical and technical improvements in the RAF defences wrested air superiority from the Luftwaffe. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_439

By the end of May 1942, Kesselring's forces had been reduced to just 13 serviceable reconnaissance aircraft, six Bf 110s, 30 Bf 109s and 34 bombers (mostly Ju 88s): a total of 83 compared with several hundred aircraft two months earlier. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_440

Axis target convoys Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_20

After the battles of May and June, the air attacks were much reduced in August and September. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_441

While air superiority had been won back by the RAF, German pressure had allowed Axis convoys to re-supply the Panzer Army Africa. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_442

The island appeared to the Axis forces to be neutralised as a threat to their convoys. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_443

Rommel could now look forward to offensive operations with the support of the Luftwaffe in North Africa. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_444

At the Battle of Gazala he won a major victory, while the Battle of Bir Hakeim was less successful. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_445

Even so, he was soon back in Egypt fighting at El Alamein. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_446

Despite the reduction in direct air pressure over Malta itself, the situation on the island was serious. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_447

It was running out of all essential commodities, particularly food and water, as the bombing had crippled pumps and distribution pipes. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_448

Clothing was also hard to come by. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_449

All livestock had been slaughtered, and the lack of leather meant people were forced to use curtains and used tyres to replace clothing and shoe soles. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_450

Although the civilian population was enduring, the threat of starvation was very real. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_451

Poor nutrition and sanitation led to the spread of disease. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_452

Soldiers’ rations were also reduced, from four to two thousand calories a day and the British prepared to supply the island with two convoy operations. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_453

In June, the Royal Navy sent two convoys, Operation Harpoon from Gibraltar and Operation Vigorous from Haifa and Port Said, to Malta. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_454

The move was designed to split Axis naval forces attempting to intervene. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_455

Lloyd the AOC, wanted to give No. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_456

601 Squadron over to convoy escort duty. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_457

Although he could afford this diversion, he could maintain a standing patrol of only four Spitfires over the convoy. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_458

If Axis aircraft attacked as they were withdrawing, they had to stay and fight. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_459

Baling out if the pilots ran low on fuel was the only alternative to landing on Malta. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_460

The pilots had to hope that they would be picked up by the ships. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_461

The eastern convoy was forced to turn back after a series of naval and air engagements, despite the British ships still having 20% of their ammunition left—it was considered insufficient to see them into Malta. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_462

The losses of the convoy were heavy. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_463

Among the British losses was the cruiser HMS Hermione. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_464

Three destroyers and 11 merchant vessels were also sunk. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_465

Malta sent Bristol Beauforts to engage the Italian fleet and German U-boats attacking the convoy. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_466

They torpedoed and sank the heavy cruiser Trento and damaged the battleship Littorio. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_467

Two freighters of the western convoy reached Malta and delivered supplies, making them the only ships out of a total of 17 to deliver their loads, 25,000 tons of supplies. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_468

A further 16 Malta-based pilots were lost in the operations. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_469

In August, the Operation Pedestal convoy brought vital relief to the besieged island, but at heavy cost. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_470

It was attacked from the sea and from the air. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_471

Some 146 Ju 88s, 72 Bf 109s, 16 Ju 87s, 232 Italian fighters, and 139 Italian bombers (a large number being the highly effective Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 torpedo bomber) took part in the action against the convoy. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_472

Out of the 14 merchant ships sent, nine were sunk. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_473

Moreover, the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle, one cruiser and three destroyers were sunk by a combined effort from the Italian Navy, Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_474

Nevertheless, the operation though costly in lives and ships, was vital in bringing in much-needed war materials and supplies. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_475

British destroyers saved 950 of Eagle's crew. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_476

The Regia Aeronautica had played the central role against the convoy. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_477

Indeed, according to Sadkovich and others, to pretend that the air offensive against Malta had been a purely German affair is misleading. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_478

According to Sadkovich, Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_479

The surface fleets were not the only supply line to Malta. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_480

British submarines also made a substantial effort. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_481

The submarine HMS Clyde was converted into an underwater supply ship. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_482

She could not go as deep or dive as quickly as the T- and U-class types, but she still made nine supply missions to Malta, which was more than any other vessel of its type. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_483

The ability of the submarine to carry large loads enabled it to be of great value in the campaign to lift the siege. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_484

Arrival of Keith Park Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_21

In July, Hugh Lloyd was relieved of RAF command on Malta. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_485

It was felt that a man with past experience of fighter defence operations was needed. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_486

For some reason, the Air Staff did not choose to do this earlier, when the bombing ceased in 1941, and the RAF forces on Malta became primarily fighter-armed while the principal aim changed to one of air defence. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_487

Air Vice Marshal Keith Park replaced Lloyd as AOC. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_488

Park arrived on 14 July 1942 by flying boat. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_489

He landed in the midst of a raid although Lloyd had specifically requested he circle the harbour until it had passed. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_490

Lloyd met Park and admonished him for taking an unnecessary risk. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_491

Park had faced Kesselring before during the Battle of Britain. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_492

During that battle, Park had advocated sending small numbers of fighters into battle to meet the enemy. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_493

There were three fundamental reasons for this. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_494

First, there would always be fighters in the air covering those on the ground if one did not send their entire force to engage at once. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_495

Second, small numbers were quicker to position and easier to move around. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_496

Third, the preservation of his force was critical. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_497

The fewer fighters he had in the air (he advocated 16 at most), the smaller target the numerically superior enemy would have. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_498

Over Malta, he reversed these tactics owing to changed circumstances. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_499

With plenty of Spitfires to operate, Park sought to intercept the enemy and break up his formations before the bombers reached the island. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_500

Until this point, the Spitfires had fought defensively. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_501

They scrambled and headed south to gain height, then turned around to engage the enemy over the island. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_502

Now, with improved radar and quicker take off times (two to three minutes) and improved air-sea rescue, more offensive action became possible. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_503

Using three squadrons, Park asked the first to engage the escorting fighters by 'bouncing them' out of the sun. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_504

The second would strike at the close escort, or, if unescorted, the bombers themselves. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_505

The third was to attack the bombers head-on. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_506

The impact of Park's methods was instant. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_507

His Forward Interception Plan, issued officially on 25 July 1942, forced the Axis to abandon daylight raids within six days. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_508

The Ju 87s were withdrawn from operations over Malta altogether. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_509

Kesselring responded by sending in fighter sweeps at even higher altitudes to gain the tactical advantage. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_510

Park retaliated by ordering his fighters to climb no higher than 6,100 feet (1,900 m). Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_511

While this did give away a considerable height advantage, it forced the Bf 109s to descend to altitudes more suitable for the Spitfire than the German fighter. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_512

The methods would have great effect in October when Kesselring returned. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_513

Allied victory (October–November 1942) Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_22

British offensive operations Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_23

While the RAF and Royal Navy defensive operations dominated for the most part, offensive strikes were still being carried out. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_514

The year 1942 was particularly impressive for offensive operations as well. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_515

Two-thirds of the Italian merchant fleet was sunk; 25% by British submarines, 37% by Allied aircraft. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_516

Axis forces in North Africa were denied around half of their supplies and two-thirds of their oil. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_517

The submarines of Simpson's 10th Flotilla were on patrol constantly, except for the period May–July 1942, when Kesselring made a considerable effort against their bases. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_518

Their success was not easy to achieve, given most of them were the slow U-class types. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_519

Supported by S- and T-class vessels, they dropped mines. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_520

British submarine commanders became aces while operating from Malta. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_521

Commanders Ian McGeoch (commanding HMS Splendid), Hugh "Rufus" Mackenzie and David Wanklyn had particular success. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_522

Lieutenant Commander Lennox Napier sank the German tanker Wilhelmsburg (7,020 tons). Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_523

It was one of the few German tankers exporting oil from Romania. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_524

The loss of the ship led Hitler to complain directly to Karl Dönitz, while comparing the Kriegsmarine unfavourably with the Royal Navy. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_525

Dönitz argued that he did not have the resources to protect the convoy, though the escort of the ship exceeded that which the Allies could have afforded to give a large convoy in the Atlantic at that point in the war. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_526

It was fortunate for Dönitz that Hitler did not probe the defence of the ship further. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_527

The submarine proved to be one of the most potent weapons in the British armoury when combating Axis convoys. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_528

Simpson, and George Phillips, who replaced him on 23 January 1943, had much success. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_529

The estimated tonnage sunk by British U-class submarines alone was 650,000 tons, with another 400,000 tons damaged. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_530

The island base, HMS Talbot, supplied 1,790 torpedoes at that time. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_531

The number fired by the 10th Flotilla was 1,289, with a hit rate of 30%. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_532

The Chief of Staff of the DAK, Fritz Bayerlein once claimed: "We should have taken Alexandria and reached the Suez Canal had it not been for the work of your submarines". Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_533

Wing Commander Patrick Gibbs and 39 Squadron, flew their Beauforts against shipping and increased the pressure on Rommel by attacking his supply lines in September. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_534

Rommel's position was now critical. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_535

The army in North Africa was starved of supplies while the British reinforced their lines in Egypt, prior to the Second Battle of El Alamein. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_536

He complained to the OKW that he was severely short of ammunition and fuel for offensive action. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_537

The Axis organised a convoy to relieve the difficulties. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_538

Ultra intercepted the Axis communications, and Wellingtons of 69 Squadron confirmed the Axis operation was real. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_539

Gibbs's Beauforts sank two ships and one of Simpson's submarines sank a third. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_540

Rommel still hoped another tanker, San Andreas, would deliver the 3,198 tons of fuel needed for the Battle of Alam el Halfa. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_541

Rommel did not wait for it to dock, and launched the offensive before its arrival. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_542

The ship was sunk by an attack led by Gibbs. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_543

Of the nine ships sent, five were sunk by Malta's forces. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_544

The Beauforts were having a devastating impact on Axis fuel supplies which were now nearly used up. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_545

On 1 September, Rommel was forced to retreat. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_546

Kesselring handed over Luftwaffe fuel, but this merely denied the German air units the means to protect the ground forces, thereby increasing the effectiveness of British air superiority over the frontline. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_547

In August, Malta's strike forces had contributed to the Axis' difficulties in trying to force an advance into Egypt. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_548

In that month, 33% of supplies and 41% of fuel were lost. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_549

In September 1942, Rommel received only 24% of the 50,000 tons of supplies needed monthly to continue offensive operations. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_550

During September, the Allies sank 33,939 tons of shipping at sea. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_551

Many of these supplies had to be brought in via Tripoli, many kilometres behind the battle front. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_552

The lack of food and water caused a sickness rate of 10% among Axis soldiers. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_553

The British air-submarine offensive ensured no fuel reached North Africa in the first week of October 1942. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_554

Two fuel-carrying ships were sunk, and another lost its cargo despite the crew managing to salvage the ship. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_555

As the British offensive at El Alamein began on 23 October 1942, Ultra intelligence was gaining a clear picture of the desperate Axis fuel situation. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_556

On 25 October, three tankers and one cargo ship carrying fuel and ammunition were sent under heavy air and sea escort, and were likely to be the last ships to reach Rommel while he was at El Alamein. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_557

Ultra intelligence intercepted the planned convoy route, and alerted Malta's air units. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_558

The three fuel-carrying vessels were sunk by 28 October. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_559

It cost the British one Beaufighter, two Beauforts, three (out of six) Blenheims and one Wellington. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_560

Rommel lost 44% of his supplies on October, a jump from the 20% lost in September. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_561

Siege lifted Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_24

By August 1942, 163 Spitfires were on hand to defend Malta; 120 were serviceable. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_562

On 11 and 17 August and 24 October 1942, under the respective actions, Operation Bellows, Operation Baritone and Operation Train, HMS Furious brought another 85 Spitfires to Malta. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_563

Often, the Spitfires were asked to undertake flights of five and a half hours; this was achieved using 170-gallon ferry tanks. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_564

The ferry tanks, combined with a 29-gallon tank in the rear fuselage, brought the total tank capacity up to 284 gallons. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_565

Despite the success of Allied convoys in getting through, the month was as bad as any other, combining bombing with food shortages. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_566

In response to the threat Malta was now posing to Axis supply lines, the Luftwaffe renewed its attacks on Malta in October 1942. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_567

Recognising the critical battle was approaching in North Africa (Second Battle of El Alamein), Kesselring organised Fliegerkorps II in Sicily to neutralise the threat once and for all. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_568

On 11 October, the defenders were mass equipped with Spitfire Mk VB/Cs. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_569

Over 17 days, the Luftwaffe suffered 34 Ju 88s and 12 Bf 109s destroyed and 18 damaged. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_570

RAF losses amounted to 23 Spitfires shot down and 20 crash-landed. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_571

The British lost 12 pilots killed. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_572

On 16 October, it was clear to Kesselring that the defenders were too strong. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_573

He called off the offensive. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_574

The situation in North Africa required German air support, so the October offensive marked the last major effort by the Luftwaffe against Malta. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_575

Aftermath Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_25

The losses left the Axis air forces in a depleted state. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_576

They could not offer the air support needed at the frontline. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_577

The situation on the island was still stringent going into November, but Park's victory in the air battle was soon followed by news of a major success at the front. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_578

At El Alamein in North Africa the British had broken through on land, and by 5 November were advancing rapidly westward. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_579

News soon reached Malta of Operation Torch, the Allied landing in Vichy French Morocco and French Algeria on 8 November. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_580

Some 11 days later, news of the Soviet counterattack during the Battle of Stalingrad increased morale even more. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_581

The extent to which the success in North Africa benefited Malta was apparent when a convoy (Operation Stoneage) reached Malta from Alexandria on 20 November virtually unscathed. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_582

This convoy is seen as the end of the two-year siege of Malta. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_583

On 6 December, another supply convoy under the codename Operation Portcullis reached Malta without suffering any losses. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_584

After that, ships sailed to Malta without joining convoys. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_585

The capture of North African airfields and the bonus of having air protection all the way to the island enabled the ships to deliver 35,000 tons. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_586

In early December, another 55,000 tons arrived. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_587

The last air raid over Malta occurred on 20 July 1943. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_588

It was the 3,340th alert since 11 June 1940. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_589

Allied warship losses Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_26

Allied casualties in warships: Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_590

Siege of Malta (World War II)_unordered_list_0

  • One battleship:Siege of Malta (World War II)_item_0_0

HMS Barham Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_591

Siege of Malta (World War II)_unordered_list_1

HMS Eagle, Ark Royal Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_592

Siege of Malta (World War II)_unordered_list_2

  • Five cruisers:Siege of Malta (World War II)_item_2_2

HMS Cairo, Hermione, Manchester, Neptune, Southampton Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_593

Siege of Malta (World War II)_unordered_list_3

  • 19 destroyers:Siege of Malta (World War II)_item_3_3

HMS Airedale, Bedouin, Fearless, Foresight, Gallant, Gurkha, Hasty, Hyperion, Jersey, Kandahar, Kingston, Kujawiak (Polish Navy), Lance, Legion, Maori, Mohawk, HMAS Nestor (Royal Australian Navy), HMS Pakenham and Southwold. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_594

Siege of Malta (World War II)_unordered_list_4

  • 38 submarinesSiege of Malta (World War II)_item_4_4

HMS Cachalot, Grampus, Odin, Olympus, Orpheus, Oswald, Undaunted, Union, P36, P38, P48, P222, P311, Pandora, Parthian, Perseus, Rainbow, Regent, Regulus, Saracen, Splendid, Talisman, Tempest, Tetrarch, Thunderbolt, Tigris, Traveller, Triad, Triton, Triumph, Trooper, Turbulent, Upholder, Urge, Usk and Utmost. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_595

The Free French Narval and Greek Navy vessel Glaukos, were also lost. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_596

Infrastructure damage Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_27

In the densely populated island, 5,524 private dwellings were destroyed, 9,925 were damaged but repairable and 14,225 damaged by bomb blast. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_597

In addition 111 churches, 50 hospitals, institutions or colleges, 36 theatres, clubs, government offices, banks, factories, flour mills and other commercial buildings suffered destruction or damage, a total of 30,000 buildings in all. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_598

The Royal Opera House, Auberge d'Auvergne, Auberge de France and Palazzo Correa in Valletta, the Birgu Clock Tower, Auberge d'Allemagne and Auberge d'Italie in Birgu, parts of the fortifications of Senglea, and the Governor's House of Fort Ricasoli were destroyed. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_599

Other buildings such as Auberge de Castille, Auberge de Bavière, the Casa del Commun Tesoro and parts of Fort Manoel also suffered extensive damage but were rebuilt after the war. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_600

A War Damage Commission was set up to compensate those whose property was destroyed or damaged during the war. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_601

Axis shipping losses Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_28

Total Axis losses in the Mediterranean were moderate. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_602

Human casualties amounted to 17,240 personnel at sea. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_603

In supplies, the Axis lost 315,090 tons. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_604

This was more than reached Malta. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_605

The Allied navies sank 773 Axis ships, totalling 1,364,337 t (1,342,789 long tons). Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_606

Mines sank another 179 ships of 214,109 tons in total. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_607

The navies and air forces shared in the destruction of 25 ships for 106,050 tons and aircraft sank 1,326 ships, for a total of 1,466,208 tons. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_608

Mines and naval craft shared a further ship destroyed between them, of 1,778 tons. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_609

In all, 2,304 Axis ships were sunk, with a combined tonnage of 3,130,969. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_610

Table of Axis ships escorted to Libya, June 1940 – January 1943: Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_611

Siege of Malta (World War II)_unordered_list_5

  • periods the Regia Aeronautica was the only enemy air force in action against MaltaSiege of Malta (World War II)_item_5_5
  • periods the Luftwaffe made significant efforts against MaltaSiege of Malta (World War II)_item_5_6
  • influence of the Royal Navy Force K operations against Axis shippingSiege of Malta (World War II)_item_5_7
  • influence of Bristol Beaufighter operations against Axis shippingSiege of Malta (World War II)_item_5_8

Siege of Malta (World War II)_table_general_0

Axis Personnel and supplies to Libya, 1940Siege of Malta (World War II)_table_caption_0
MonthSiege of Malta (World War II)_header_cell_0_0_0 Personnel
shippedSiege of Malta (World War II)_header_cell_0_0_1
Personnel
reachedSiege of Malta (World War II)_header_cell_0_0_2
Supplies
shippedSiege of Malta (World War II)_header_cell_0_0_3
Supplies
reachedSiege of Malta (World War II)_header_cell_0_0_4
JunSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_1_0 1,358Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_1_1 1,308Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_1_2 3,618Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_1_3 3,608Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_1_4
JulSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_2_0 6,407Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_2_1 6,407Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_2_2 40,875Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_2_3 40,875Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_2_4
AugSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_3_0 1,221Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_3_1 1,221Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_3_2 50,669Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_3_3 50,669Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_3_4
SepSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_4_0 4,602Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_4_1 4,602Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_4_2 53,669Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_4_3 53,669Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_4_4
OctSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_5_0 2,823Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_5_1 2,823Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_5_2 29,306Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_5_3 29,306Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_5_4
NovSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_6_0 3,157Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_6_1 3,157Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_6_2 60,778Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_6_3 60,778Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_6_4
DecSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_7_0 9,731Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_7_1 9,731Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_7_2 65,556Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_7_3 58,574Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_0_7_4

Siege of Malta (World War II)_table_general_1

Axis Personnel and supplies to Libya, 1941Siege of Malta (World War II)_table_caption_1
MonthSiege of Malta (World War II)_header_cell_1_0_0 Personnel
shippedSiege of Malta (World War II)_header_cell_1_0_1
Personnel
reachedSiege of Malta (World War II)_header_cell_1_0_2
Supplies
shippedSiege of Malta (World War II)_header_cell_1_0_3
Supplies
reachedSiege of Malta (World War II)_header_cell_1_0_4
JanSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_1_0 12,491Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_1_1 12,214Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_1_2 50,505Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_1_3 49,084Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_1_4
FebSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_2_0 19,557Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_2_1 19,557Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_2_2 80,357Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_2_3 79,173Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_2_4
MarSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_3_0 20,975Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_3_1 20,184Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_3_2 101,800Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_3_3 92,753Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_3_4
AprSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_4_0 20,698Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_4_1 19,926Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_4_2 88,597Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_4_3 81,472Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_4_4
MaySiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_5_0 12,552Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_5_1 9,958Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_5_2 73,367Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_5_3 69,331Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_5_4
JunSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_6_0 12,886Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_6_1 12,886Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_6_2 133,331Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_6_3 125,076Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_6_4
JulSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_7_0 16,141Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_7_1 15,767Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_7_2 77,012Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_7_3 62,276Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_7_4
AugSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_8_0 18,288Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_8_1 16,753Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_8_2 96,021Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_8_3 83,956Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_8_4
SepSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_9_0 12,717Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_9_1 6,603Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_9_2 94,115Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_9_3 67,513Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_9_4
OctSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_10_0 4,046Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_10_1 3,541Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_10_2 92,449Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_10_3 73,614Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_10_4
NovSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_11_0 4,872Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_11_1 4,628Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_11_2 79,208Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_11_3 29,843Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_11_4
DecSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_12_0 1,748Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_12_1 1,074Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_12_2 47,680Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_12_3 39,092Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_1_12_4

Siege of Malta (World War II)_table_general_2

Axis Personnel and supplies to Libya, 1942Siege of Malta (World War II)_table_caption_2
MonthSiege of Malta (World War II)_header_cell_2_0_0 Personnel
shippedSiege of Malta (World War II)_header_cell_2_0_1
Personnel
reachedSiege of Malta (World War II)_header_cell_2_0_2
Supplies
shippedSiege of Malta (World War II)_header_cell_2_0_3
Supplies
reachedSiege of Malta (World War II)_header_cell_2_0_4
JanSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_1_0 2,840Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_1_1 1,355Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_1_2 66,214Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_1_3 66,170Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_1_4
FebSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_2_0 531Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_2_1 531Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_2_2 59,468Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_2_3 58,965Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_2_4
MarSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_3_0 391Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_3_1 284Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_3_2 57,541Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_3_3 47,588Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_3_4
AprSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_4_0 1,349Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_4_1 1,349Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_4_2 151,578Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_4_3 150,389Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_4_4
MaySiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_5_0 4,396Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_5_1 4,241Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_5_2 93,188Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_5_3 86,439Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_5_4
JunSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_6_0 1,474Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_6_1 1,249Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_6_2 41,519Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_6_3 32,327Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_6_4
JulSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_7_0 4,566Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_7_1 4,435Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_7_2 97,794Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_7_3 91,491Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_7_4
AugSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_8_0 1,281Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_8_1 790Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_8_2 77,134Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_8_3 51,655Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_8_4
SepSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_9_0 1,367Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_9_1 959Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_9_2 96,903Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_9_3 77,526Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_9_4
OctSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_10_0 1,011Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_10_1 631Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_10_2 83,695Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_10_3 46,698Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_10_4
NovSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_11_0 1,031Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_11_1 1,031Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_11_2 85,970Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_11_3 63,736Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_11_4
DecSiege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_12_0 5Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_12_1 5Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_12_2 12,981Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_12_3 6,151Siege of Malta (World War II)_cell_2_12_4

In popular culture Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_29

In film Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_30

Siege of Malta (World War II)_unordered_list_6

  • The war propaganda short film Malta G.C. was commissioned in 1942 by the British government to popularise the endurance of the Maltese people and the awarding of the George Cross. It features real footage of the bombings and their effects.Siege of Malta (World War II)_item_6_9
  • The 1953 British film Malta Story is the fictional story of a photo reconnaissance RAF pilot in Malta during the siege. It features real footage and re-enactments with authentic aircraft.Siege of Malta (World War II)_item_6_10

In literature Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_31

In his novel The Kappillan of Malta (1973) Nicholas Monsarrat gives an account of the Siege of Malta from June 1940 to August 1942 as experienced by the fictional Catholic priest Father Salvatore. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_612

The novel is interspersed with brief episodes from other periods of Maltese history. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_613

Thomas Pynchon's 1963 debut “V.” features a chapter devoted to life during the Siege of Malta. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_614

In his 2016 novel Everyone Brave is Forgiven, Chris Cleave presents the misery and horror of the siege through the eyes of British officers whose experiences are loosely based on those of his grandfather David Hill, who served in the Royal Artillery. Siege of Malta (World War II)_sentence_615

See also Siege of Malta (World War II)_section_32

Siege of Malta (World War II)_unordered_list_7


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege of Malta (World War II).