|Malta in the Med.|
The Axis siege of Malta lasted from Mussolini's declaration of war on June 10, 1940 until Italy surrendered and joined the allies in the summer of 1943. During this time Malta was subjected to the most intense and prolonged bombing of any part of the world during the Second World War. RAF pilots provided critical air defence of the island during countless bombing raids. Royal navy submarines sank and harassed Axis convoys which were supplying Rommel's Africa Corps from Italian ports. Malta was desperately short of essential supplies including food, ammunition and, most importantly aviation fuel.
|USS Wasp, Malta Maritime Museum|
Art Roscoe, a 21-year old Californian, longed to fly, but had a slight astigmatism in one eye and was turned down by the US military. Instead he joined one of the American Eagle squadron's of the RAF ands was trained as a Spitfire pilot in Essex. Transferred to Malta, he became a decorated RAF ace. He was shot down by cannon fire from an ME-109 in October 1942 but managed to survive the crash and the war.
|Maltese kids waving US Flag|
Arrival of Operation Pedestal Convoy
After the siege of Malta lifted in 1943 there was a flood of American troops and officers into Malta. In June of 1943 General Eisenhower, Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces North Africa, planned Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily, from his headquarters in Lascaris (on the island of Malta). Many British felt that the arrival of the better paid American troops drove up prices on the island.
FDR himself paid two visits to the plucky island once in December of 1943 and again for the Malta Conference with Churchill in February 1945. On December 7, 1943, the second anniversary of Pearl Harbor, while in Malta, FDR declared as follows...
|FDR quote, Valletta, Malta|
Under repeated fire from the skies, Malta stood alone, but unafraid in the center of the sea, one tiny bright flame in the darkness—a beacon of hope for the clearer days which have come.
Malta's bright story of human fortitude and courage will be read by posterity with wonder and with gratitude through all the ages.
What was done in this Island maintains the highest traditions of gallant men and women who from the beginning of time have lived and died to preserve civilization for all mankind."
Grosvenor Square, London
* The USS Wasp was later sent to the Pacific theatre where she was sunk by a Japanese submarine at the battle of Guadalcanal.
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