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Book Review
Siege of Malta 1940-42
Siege of Malta 1940-42
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by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]

Introduction

This book covering the Siege of Malta 1940-42 is part of a series of titles from Pen and Sword as part of their ‘Images at War’ series. These books cover the subject mostly in photographs and so offer a great visual reference for anyone interested in the subject matter regardless of the reason for that interest. For the modeller these books represent a horn of plenty when it comes to visual information.

The following portion of the review is as provided by Pen and Sword:
For nearly two and a half years, from June 1940 until late 1942, Malta was subjected to one Axis air raid after another.

The Mediterranean island was effectively beleaguered, reliant for defence on anti-aircraft guns and often-outnumbered fighter aircraft and dependent for survival on naval supply convoys.

The Axis attempted to bomb and starve Malta into submission, attacking ports, military and industrial areas, leading to Malta becoming one of the most intensively bombed areas of the Second World War, with well over 3000 alerts before the end of hostilities.

But against the odds, and at heavy cost, Malta was held. Malta was vital to Allied success in North Africa, dominating Axis supply routes to the region. It was a remarkable, intense campaign, a crucial turning point in the Second World War, and one of the Allies’ greatest tactical and strategic victories.

This is an account of that desperate time, as witnessed by those who were there and illustrated with their wartime photographs, together with colour images of Malta today.

Review

This offering from Pen and Sword is part of the ‘Images at War’ series. This series of books are soft backed offerings having a good card cover with a very good spine to the book that keeps the contents in good order. This book titled ‘Siege of Malta 1940-42' has been authored by Anthony Rogers; this offering from Anthony Rogers is the second title he has authored covering Malta during World War 2. The contents of this title are provided over 159 pages of good quality semi gloss paper and 200 images.

The contents are presented in the following sections:
Image Sources
Introduction
Maps
Chapter 1 – Island Fortress
Chapter 2 – The Air War 1940
Chapter 3 – The Air War 1941
Chapter 4 – The Air War 1942
Chapter 5 – Artillery and the PBI
Chapter 6 – Malta Convoys
Chapter 7 – The Most Bombed Place on Earth
Chapter 8 – Malta Today

This title as part of the Images at War series offers what I consider a past and present history of those living under relentless bomber raids as evidenced by the large number of aircraft artefacts on and around the island, some have even been used by locals as gates and well covers. The photographs offer a great insight into not only warfare but also how the civilians manage to cope with the harsh and dangerous situation in which they find themselves.

Something this book brings into stark relief is how life is short for many in war time; there are photographs of pilots at rest, inspecting their aircraft and in one case getting married to a local girl, the captions then tell you how in many cases when and where these individuals died, it brings a new respect for those men and woman when confronted with information presented in this way. I have to praise the author for the level of detail provided in the captions for all of the photographs that adds a great deal to the poinience of the image as a whole.

Moving away from the aircraft and we take a look at the ground forces efforts to thwart the Italian and German air forces as they attacked in many waves. The 3.7inch HAA (Heavy Anti-Aircraft) guns seem to be the weapon of choice when it comes to flack and having seen a few of these guns up close including being fired it will make you jump. Flak guns are limited in terms of their effectiveness but they do raise the morale of those who cannot hit back. It is also good to see the Royal Artillery gunners who carried out this task both at the time and those that are around today.

So you have the defence of the island covered but what about everything an island needs to fight? That was the job of the Navy and the convoys that suffered greatly in their task of keeping Malta supplied with food, water, ammunition and fuel; everything needed to keep this island alive and fighting was brought in by sea. The cost of this task was heavy on both the Navy and the convoys, but they continued to face all trials and tribulations and came through when it mattered. This section is limited, but I suspect that taking pictures was not high on the list of things to get done and so I am grateful with what has been supplied here.

The book then looks at Malta from the aspect off just how heavily bombed the island was. There are a good number of photographs here showing everything from a raid in effect to bomb disposal. There is an image of a bomb that has been made safe with a notation to the men who had disarmed it being killed later that day while working on another bomb. Bombs were dropped off a cliff and into the sea once safe, when this little lot went off the description is well worth a read.

The last chapter in this offering looks at Malta in the present and shows what some of the remaining structures look like today. We are provided with a look beneath the waves at the large amounts of ordnance and war machines that are still there to this very day. A look at the farmers and locals that have used items from destroyed aircraft and put them to good use even today is a pleasing detour. Perhaps something I enjoyed seeing shown here is a reunion of old warriors together who are slowly disappearing and taking the Second World War out of living memory.

Conclusion

This offering from Pen and Sword and authored by Anthony Rogers is a great pictorial look at war of this period via a microcosm that is the island of Malta. The photographs provided do a fantastic job of giving the viewer a taste of war at this place during that time and are greatly enhanced by the excellent captions provided by the author who puts amongst other things names to faces which makes this book so appealing.
SUMMARY
Darren Baker takes a look at another release in the Images at War series published by pen and Sword, this time the title is ‘Siege of Malta 1940-42'.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 9781784384593
  Suggested Retail: £14.99
  PUBLISHED: Jan 28, 2020
  NATIONALITY: Malta
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.04%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 94.08%

Our Thanks to Pen & Sword Books!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Darren Baker (CMOT)
FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM

I have been building model kits since the early 70’s starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70’s, I have had lots of opportunitie...

Copyright ©2020 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. All rights reserved.



Comments

Little Malta proved a mighty thorn in the Axis' collective side and undoubtedly decided the conflict in North Africa. The book and its photos, therefore casts another light on this less-known conflict that I found to be a true edge-of-the-seat drama. The civilian efforts at tunneling deep underground, digging out entire settlements in the soft chalk of the island, is a fascinating aspect that just isn't explored as much as how those few British fighters managed to hold-off the Axis forces, etc.
JAN 28, 2020 - 01:44 PM
   

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