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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
In August 1942, Malta was on the brink of starvation, and on the brink of being lost to the Axis powers. Malta was a lynchpin, with submarines and strike aircraft taking a hefty toll of supplies flowing to Rommel in North Africa - naval surface forces had been withdrawn, due to the exceptionally heavy bombing from the air. Without Malta, Rommel would probably have reached Cairo; because of the forces stationed at Malta, Rommel did not have enough supplies, and this was a big contribution to his defeat at Alamein. From that moment, the tide turned for the British forces.
This book tells how a convoy of 14 merchant ships, with a very strong Royal Navy escort, sailed from Gibraltar to Malta; how they suffered heavy Axis attacks, both from submarines, small surface craft, and air forces, for much of the way; and how few of them arrived, and of the vital difference this made to the Allied effort.

The text shows that an enormous amount of research has gone into a very detailed account. A bit too detailed, at times, in that the main story seems to get lost, at times, in the various separate strands - for me, they did not really come together in a single story. I could not see much of the wood, for too many trees (a poor metaphor!). Overall, very good on detail, a rather dry style, but a worthy telling of a very important story.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
There is something about Operation Pedestal which will continue to occupy the minds of those with an interest in the subject for many more years to come. Had the tanker "Ohio" not arrived in Malta with her cargo intact in August 1942 - and she barely did!, Malta would have capitulated within a few days. Viewed in a modern context, the fall of such a small country might appear insignificant. In the pre-jet aircraft and pre-missile days of WW2, however, Malta was the key to success in North Africa by either side.

This was a time when Axis aircraft controlled the entire northern shores of the Mediterranean. Unlike Gibraltar and Alexandria, Malta - with her central position in the Mediterranean, was completely dependent on re-supply by sea. In addition, whilst much has been written about the London Blitz where, for a period of 51 days, German aircraft bombed the British capital city, much less has been written about the Malta Blitz where Valetta suffered the same treatment for 150 days.

By August 1942, the plans for the surrender of Malta had been drawn up. The tiny island state would now survive for less than 30 days unless this convoy - codenamed Operation Pedestal, got through. Fourteen merchant ships were to be protected by the most powerful naval force (which included 4 aircraft carriers, 2 battleships and 3 cruisers) ever assigned to guard a fleet of ships. Against them was mounted a land-based air assault by combined German and Italian forces on an unprecedented scale, units of the Italian Navy and a series of coordinated submarine attacks.

British naval losses (which included one of those carriers) and damage were alarming, but 4 of those merchant ships eventually arrived in Malta. This included the all-important Ohio which was only kept afloat by having destroyers tied to her sides as she entered one of the most famous harbours in the world. Operation Pedestal had been a success and the Battle for Malta had been won.

In this book, first published in 1970, Peter Smith provides the reader with a first rate work. On the one hand, his research is impeccable and, of course, complete. On the other, he also produces an excellent read.

With a fascinating selection of historic photographs - mostly taken during the various naval actions, some maps and a vital selection of Appendices containing relevant data, this is, as I say, a complete work.

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 10 June 2009
This books tell the story of the last gasp desperate gamble to get a supply convoy through to Malta in 1942. With the islands supplies down to a matter of weeks there was a real chance of Malta capitulating to the Axis powers. With the only aircraft carriers available and those carrying obsolete aircraft, the convoy sets sail only to run into a hail of aircraft attacks. A very well researched and written book guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat. Plenty of facts and figues, photos, names and dates, this book will tell you all you need to know on what was at up until that time the biggest military gamble undertaken by the British and Commonwealth forces. In 1942 the war was far, far from being won, the US having thus far not fired a shot in anger in Europe. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 30 January 2014
This account gives so much detail about the people and ships of the famous convoy that it can be a reference book for almost anything you want to know about it. That said I found the book gave a gripping account from beginning to end about the reasons, organisation, difficulties and of course the hell of battle that took place.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 11 March 2013
the best book on the malta story ever my uncle was on the furious wich played a small part in pedestal
would reccomend this book
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 30 March 2011
This is a superb book. Very well researched, packed with information and an exciting story. It should be on the shelf of everyone interested in the war at sea and especially those with a passion for Malta.
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on 18 May 2015
fantastic book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 September 2014
A booked packed with facts = great if that is what you want.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 2 May 2012
The problem is two-fold: firstly it lapses into 'we' (the British) frequently and is hardly an objective study of the convoy. Perhaps I share the patriotism, but I want my books to be objective and factual. Secondly it is not well-written and there are many editing errors, from poor spelling to poor grammar. A shame, because the convoy was very important, pivotal perhaps, and it does not need puff to make it exciting and moving - it was and is.

Meanwhile, the whole reason that Malta was so crucial at the time - as an air and submarine base for intercepting supply conveys to Rommel in N. Africa - is given too little attention. Yes, Pedestal was not the Eighth Army, the Desert Air Force, the air power stationed on Malta or the Submarines there, but since that is why the oil was so crucial it is important context.

So, OK, well researched and not too well put together. Still, that's better than badly researched, isn't it?
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0 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 29 December 2009
Thank you my husband was delighted with this book and the conditin was as described and very good. Delivery was prompt.
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