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on 27 February 2014
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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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. Add to that simple fact that the more famous London Blitz lasted for 57 days and the Blitz on Malta continued for 157 days and it was into this maelstrom of military mayhem that the newly married 22-year-old Denis Barham arrived for duty.

By cleverly combining his diary entries with his own sketches made at the time - including anything from portraits, scenes, crashed aircraft and relaxing pilots, we are treated to the most illuminating insight into the sheer hell which was his lot at that time. By highlighting his own private thoughts, fears and experiences in such a manner, he manages to relate the absolute horror of war from different perspectives. He does not seek to portray himself as anything other than an ordinary man with flying skills who continued to do his duty - almost in spite of his own personal demons. In so doing he provides an account which is the very definition of Duty.

This is Denis Barnham's story and, for that very reason, we must overlook whatever inaccuracies may exist - such as wrong names or failing to mention someone important at the time. It is not about them! There are also instances when the grammar might be improved - but when the Devil walks through your front door you do not check to see if his boots are clean!

Denis Barnham never truly recovered from the changes brought about by his experiences of Malta and he died in 1981. This edition has been produced by his ever-loving wife Diana who provides one of the most moving Forewords it has ever been my privilege to read. All servicemen and especially former servicemen deserve to find someone like that!

NM
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on 3 November 2013
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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on 29 June 2013
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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on 13 June 2015
As part of my PhD research, I have read literally shelves of memoirs from WWII allied pilots. Denis Barnham, by virtue of his amazing talent as an artist, is easily one of the best writers from this group of heroes and his book is one of the few that completely transcends its subject -- his descriptions on the joy of flying, the fear and focus of flying in combat, and of the desperate situation the RAF and the people of Malta faced in the summer of 1942 are simply gripping. His deeply personal contemplation on life and religion in the midst of so much death are more poignant than anything else I have read to date. I picked this book up for the history and for the tactics and was left deeply touched by the faith and the artistry of its author. An inimitable addition to any aviation or military historian's 'must read' list.
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on 4 November 2015
Well, I was expecting a lot of action, dogfights, fire and all the stuff. Instead I found the account of a troubled man, with all the fears and questions a young man living in that period possessed. I admire him as a hero, not for his combat skills (and skilled indeed he was), but for his kind soul.
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on 8 August 2014
Truly wonderful yet very sad and a perspective like no other.
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on 30 January 2014
The book is very well written and Denis Barnham writes well and with much humanity. The prose is excellent but unfortunately there are no illustrations at all in the kindle version of the book, Given that the author writes about his drawings and paintings at various points in the book, and that the paper edition of this edition of the book includes some new photos it seems very surprising that these were left out of the electronic edition.

There are also a number of typos in the first couple of chapters of the book so the kindle edition feels like a very cheap copy of the print edition. I suspect I'll be ordering a paper copy for completeness as the book itself is great
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on 28 May 2016
great book
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on 3 July 2014
Amazing book, very well written
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