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Malta Spitfire Pilot: Ten Weeks of Terror April-June 1942 [Paperback]

Denis Barnham
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Jun 2013
Malta in the summer of 1942, a Malta wide open to air attack from the Germans and Italians and defended by a handful of Spitfires and a few anti-aircraft guns. Denis Barnham, a young and inexperienced flight lieutenant, spent ten hectic weeks on this indomitable island; he left a well-ordered English aerodrome for the chaos and disillusionment of Luqa. His task was to engage the overwhelming number of enemy bombers, usually protected by fighter escorts, and shoot down as many as possible. The Spitfires were bomb-scarred and battered; often they could only get two or three in the air together, and the airfields were riddled with bomb craters, but they managed to keep going and they made their mark on enemy operations. The author has written a powerful account of his experiences in Malta starting with his trip out in an American aircraft carrier through the ceaseless battle and turmoil during the desperate defence of the island, until his departure by air back to England, having seen the reinforcements safely landed and the tide of battle turning. His descriptions and illustrations of the air action are thrilling, but terrifying. It is at times a very grim story but is told with humour and compassion to bring, arguably, one of the best firsthand accounts of aerial combat ever written.

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Frequently Bought Together

Malta Spitfire Pilot: Ten Weeks of Terror April-June 1942 + Fortress Malta: An Island Under Siege 1940-1943 (CASSELL MILITARY PAPERBACKS) + Pedestal: The Convoy That Saved Malta
Price For All Three: £25.28

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Grub Street (1 Jun 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1909166030
  • ISBN-13: 978-1909166035
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 13.8 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 83,111 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


His words reflect honestly and vividly, the sheer terror of flying from Malta at that time. --Britain at War

The book is based on the diary he kept through this horrendous period, and throughout it shines with an artist's eye for scene and detail. He is a gifted observer and a good writer. The only volume that I can compare it with in that sense is Geoffrey Wellum's First Light, which is of course one of the best known tales of a WW2 fighter pilot... Well written, providing insight into a part of WW2 that has not been as well covered as the European theatre, and with the added bonus of some of Barnham's accomplished sketches to enhance the prose, this book has much to commend it. --Paul Smiddy

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The very definition of `Duty!' 19 Feb 2014
Denis Barnham enjoyed a passion for flying and art and, prior to WW2, was already proficient at both. Joining the RAF at the outbreak of hostilities, he was an experienced combat pilot by the time his squadron was posted to Malta in 1942. For whatever reason, he decided to diarise his time in Malta - having never done so before or since. A diary is, of course, a private and personal thing where one is always honest - to oneself. This document, however, was to become brutally so as this gentle man went through - and survived, what he described as "Ten weeks of Terror." It was at least that!

After the war, he never flew again and it was not until 1956 that he transformed that diary into a book in which all his personal and private thoughts were laid bare. Now republished, the final product is as fiercely candid as the original diary and gives a very robust, pure and unadulterated look into the thoughts of those who face danger as they operate weapons of war on a daily basis. All the fears and hopes are included - as is the daily expectation of invasion.

Malta occupied the most strategic position in the central Mediterranean and, therefore, became the key to success or failure in North Africa. With almost the entire northern coastline of the Med' occupied by Axis forces, coupled with the relatively short distances across to North Africa, the role of the RAF in Malta became pivotal. In addition to those aircraft tasked to protect what few bombers existed, others went in search of enemy ships whilst yet more defended the country from onslaught after onslaught by overwhelming numbers of enemy aircraft. By comparison to the Greater London area, the Maltese capital of Valletta complete with its extensive harbour complex is a much smaller target.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Malta Spitfire Pilot 3 Nov 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
We called him 'Batty' as an affectionate nick name, he was a great speaker and I had never forgotten his Art History lessons. His son was in my year and a little eccentric but great fun. I now understand 'Batty' and what made him as he was. His real life experience was one that few of us will ever experience. The book gave a vivid account of what it was like for him and his colleagues. His orders to provide air cover at all costs to the convoy mirror my own fathers experiences and their orders on convoy ships in the Arctic! Everyone should read this book and reflect. Pat Barker's 'Regeneration' trilogy is fiction this book describes what really happened.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Malta Spitfire Pilot 29 Jun 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A very interesting book that is very much a personal report on that period in Malta, how anyone lived through that bombing is hard to imagine, however it also highlighted poor orginisation in some areas.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real experience 27 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was a really well written story of someone's actual experiences, fears and feelings during this conflict.
There is no chest thumping here. It really puts you there and you wonder how anyone can survive on any level. As was stated by one of the pilots, it made the Battle of Britain look like a walk in the park (paraphrased as I don't remember the exact quote).
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