Operation Pedestal: The Fleet That Battled to Malta 1942

Max Hastings

Operation Pedestal: The Fleet That Battled to Malta 1942
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Operation Pedestal: The Fleet That Battled to Malta 1942

Max Hastings

Operation Pedestal was a crucial relief mission that became an epic, bloody naval battle and a pivotal moment in the Second World War. In 1942, the Luftwaffe had a stranglehold on Malta. In the months of April and May, they dropped more bombs on the island than on London in the entire Blitz. British attempts to bring in supplies and reinforcements were failing with heavy losses, and the people on Malta were closing in on starvation as the Axis attempted to force their surrender.

Operation Pedestal saw an armada of fifty British ships, painstakingly loaded with food and medical supplies, ammunition and fuel, attempt to fight its way in convoy to the island. The ensuing battle was brutal on both sides, Italian submarines and German planes dealing serious damage alongside the naval skirmishing. Over the course of a few fierce days, Britain scraped a victory and ensured Malta’s survival - though at the loss of a horrifying number of ships and lives. It was an emblematic moment when, in the cruel accountancy of war, the price was worth paying.

In his signature brilliant style, Max Hastings gives a thrilling narrative of this little-known but crucial naval battle, retelling the intense action which perfectly encapsulates the spirit and power of the Royal Navy, surely the fiercest and most iconic fighting force of WW2.

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