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An account of the most overlooked of all historical sieges.,
This review is from: Siege: Malta 1940-1943 (Paperback)
There was the Siege of Troy, the Siege of Leningrad and other notable events where one opposing force laid siege to either a city or, in the case of Gibraltar (which endured 13 sieges throughout her colourful history), a country. The Siege of Malta, however, is not one of those which springs readily to mind and is, therefore, often overlooked.
At the time of World War Two, Malta was in a vitally strategic position. Bearing in mind the limitations of both air and sea power at that time, ships and aircraft operating from Malta were able to assist with the re-supply and support of British troops fighting in North Africa. Her aircraft could also seek and destroy those enemy ships wishing to do the same for opposing German forces.
Had Malta fallen, there is no doubt that the British 8th Army in North Africa would have been defeated and Rommel victorious. In addition, throughout this time of conflict, Axis aircraft commanded the northern shores of almost the entire Mediterranean Sea. In spite of British naval superiority on that sea, those aircraft made re-supplying the beleaguered island of Malta almost impossible. Indeed, there was a time when Malta was within 30 days of surrender.
This book tells the story of the Siege of Malta and tells it very well indeed. In a thoroughly researched work, the author skilfully takes the reader through the events which shaped Malta and the War in the Mediterranean from 1940-1943. The story of Operation Pedestal is recounted in great detail where the tanker "Ohio" finally reached Malta when 9 ships from her original convoy of 14 were lost. So vital was this ship's cargo that the Royal Navy threw everything they had into the defence of that convoy. Consequently, the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle, cruiser HMS Manchester and light cruiser HMS Cairo were all lost and the cruisers HMS Kenya and HMS Nigeria put out of action.
This account of the Siege of Malta is as good as they get and will do much to give that siege the full recognition it truly deserves. When you read this story you will begin to understand exactly why King George VI bestowed Britain's highest award for gallantry on the people of Malta - for all they had endured and the way in which they had rallied to the cause throughout this most turbulent time in their history.
Retired British Army major.