Operation Pedestal: the incredible mission to resupply Malta

With 2022 marking the 80th anniversary of Operation Pedestal, Joseph Galea Debono details the incredible operation to resupply the Mediterranean island of Malta

By the end of July 1942, Malta, the vital link between the Allied forces and the Middle East, was on the verge of capitulation. Stocks of foodstuffs, fuel, ammunition and medical supplies were predicted to run out within a few weeks. The 40,000-strong garrison of British and Maltese service personnel and the quarter-of-a-million civilians would starve to death unless supplies reached them. The authorities on the island had set the ‘target date’ as being September 7.

The damaged tanker Ohio, supported by Royal Navy destroyers, finally reaches Malta. The vital importance of Ohio’s cargo meant she could not be abandoned and made it the main target for the Luftwaffe and Italian attacks. Its Captain, Dudley William Mason was subsequently awarded the George Cross
The damaged tanker Ohio, supported by Royal Navy destroyers, finally reaches Malta. The vital importance of Ohio’s cargo meant she could not be abandoned and made it the main target for the Luftwaffe and Italian attacks. Its Captain, Dudley William Mason was subsequently awarded the George Cross Imperial War Museum

Aware of the island’s plight, Winston Churchill decided an all-out effort was necessary to force a breakthrough in the Mediterranean then infested by Axis forces. The fastest and most modern 13 merchant ships and an American tanker with a British crew were rounded up to take part in Operation Pedestal.

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