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Operation Pedestal, Max Hastings

Malta a strategic point in the middle of the Med. Frustrated Italian and German efforts to supply their African campaigns.


However. By 1942 Germany had already attacked Russia. No forces available to occupy the island. Earlier instead German forces had taken Crete - an island or almost no strategic worth.


Hitler instructed that the island needed to be taken out by bombing alone. The land forces, earmarked by Rommel and others for an assault on Malta were instead sent into Russia.

So instead, German bombers by night and Italian bombers by night. It was 20 mins flight time from Sicily.


The damage was horrendous. Anti aircraft guns and outdated RAF aircraft couldn't put up much resistance. In one month the 60 aircraft on Malta had been reduced to just 6. When 46 Spirfires were flown from USS Wasp to relieve the island they were mostly all destroyed on the ground in the days the followed.


Feb and August, 95 British vessels , 24 sunk and 21 turned back. 1 third of all Egyptian supplies lost and 43% of all sent from Britain. Air attack was lethal for the convoys.