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Malta Strikes Back

Ken Delve

“The key to our position in the whole Mediterranean lay in Malta.” (Tedder)

Two of the greatest strategic mistakes by Hitler involved failure to take control of two key locations, Gibraltar and Malta; between them these two were able to influence, and at times dominate, the Western Mediterranean area, and surrounding land masses. Malta, with its strategic partner, Alexandria (and Egypt) likewise dominated the Eastern Mediterranean and surrounding land masses.

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“The key to our position in the whole Mediterranean lay in Malta.” (Tedder) Two of the greatest strategic mistakes by Hitler involved failure to take control of two key locations, Gibraltar and Malta; between them these two were able to influence, and at times dominate, the Western Mediterranean area, and surrounding land masses. Malta, with its strategic partner, Alexandria (and Egypt) likewise dominated the Eastern Mediterranean and surrounding land masses. Malta only existed strategically for its ability to attack the enemy Lines of Communication between European bases (now stretching from France to Crete) and North Africa. Every piece of equipment, every man and all supplies had to move from Europe to North Africa, the majority by surface vessel, and had to be gathered at a limited number of port facilities in both locations, which made those locations key choke points and targets. Once in North Africa, everything had to move along the main coastal road from the supply ports to dumps and to units. Every campaign is to a greater or lesser extent one of logistics, the Desert War more so than most. It has often been called a ‘war of airfields’ but it is more accurately described as a ‘war of logistics’, with airfields playing a major role in defending one’s own supply lines whilst striking at the enemy’s lines. If Malta could not attack, then it was a drain on resources; but in order to attack it had to protect the infrastructure and equipment needed for attack. The ability to take a pounding, shake it off and fight back was the key to survival. The Island required determined leadership, external support dedicated to supplying the Island, and the committed resilience of all those on the Island to ensure success. This is the story of how Malta rose to meet the challenges facing its defences during the Second World War; how it struck back and survived one of its darkest eras.

ISBN: 9781473892446
Format: Hardback
Author(s): Ken Delve
First Publishment Date: 6 September 2017

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  1. I wholeheartedly recommend this title review by PB on 30/07/2018

    Malta was for a while the most heavily bombed place in Europe during the Second World War. The island was crucial to the success of the Allied campaign in the Mediterranean, if they had lost it, the war could have been over. This is the perceived history of the island that through its gallantry and courage earned itself the George Cross.

    Ken Delve’s superbly researched and written book goes beyond these headlines to find personal anecdotes and histories that truly bring to life the importance of the island to securing peace in the region. Malta was at the centre point of one of the longest lines of communication in the region linking Gibraltar, Malta and Alexandria and proved vital to attacking and destroying the enemy’s lines of communication. It did not come without cost and sacrifice.

    Ken Delve is a well known and respected historian and author having been editor in chief of Key Publishing and overseeing production of eight aviation based magazines. His knowledge of the subject is exemplary and extensive and reading this book it becomes apparent just how much passion he has for the subject. His attention to detail is almost obsessive, but the book benefits from this amount of detail as to do without it would lessen the effectiveness of the book. There are hundreds of black and white images and diagrams to help bring the text alive. Whilst this book is principally about the air war from Malta for Warship World readers there’s lots of anti ship actions to recount too. I wholeheartedly recommend this title.

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