15 April this year marks the 75th anniversary of the award of the George Cross to the island of Malta, in honour – as King George VI wrote – “to bear witness to a heroism and devotion that will long be famous in history”. Such attributes were on display during the early months of the Axis air assault in 1940 as the RAF did its best to hold the line, first with Gladiators and then Hurricanes


Faith, Hope and Charity — three Sea Gladiators of the Fighter Flight at Hal Far shortly after the start of hostilities. These aircraft created a legend among the local population. J. PICKERING VIA R. C. B. ASHWORTH.
Hurricane Is V7418 and V7485/S of No 261 Squadron sit on standby at Hal Far during the autumn of 1940. J. PICKERING VIA R. C. B. ASHWORTH.

Malta, with its airfields and naval base, was key to control of the central Mediterranean. However, situated just 60 miles off Sicily, it was hugely exposed to air attack in the event of a war against Italy. With fighters in short supply, none could be spared for Malta.

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