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I’ve gone on a quasi-binge reading about the air component of the Malta siege. I’m sort of parallel-reading Malta Spitfire (by Canadian ace George Beurling, published in 1943) and Malta Spitfire Pilot by Denis Barnam (published in 2010, author lasted about three months at Malta before losing his shit and is refreshing unapologetic about it). Recommend both books highly. Major takeaways = RAF pilots were incredibly diverse re nationalities, pilots died in droves in terrible training accidents (uh, pre-Malta) and the German pilots they faced were seriously f@cking good (haven’t gotten to the Italian combats yet). Anyway, a good rabbit hole to go down and I highly recommend. 

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Those were Sea Gladiators.

There is also First Light by Geoffrey Wellum. Its only about a chapter or two on Malta, the bulk of it is his training to fly and his participation in the Battle of Britain. But he did take part in the second fly in from the Carrier, and participated in the air battle with events getting increasingly blurred as you can tell he is starting to lose the plot. And then he gets grounded due to having a fairly horrible sinus infection due to spending too much time breating oxygen. A really first rate book. Not read either of the two you mention, but ive heard extracts of the Barnam book read on the 'We have ways' podcast, and it seems excellent.

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Beurling was quite a character.

As I have lived quite a few years in Malta, I have love/hate relationship with the place. 

Closterman's book "Flames in the sky" gives good account of Beurling. I can quite trust his view, being a top ace talking admirably about fellow pilot (AFAIK they never met). 

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15 hours ago, Sardaukar said:

Beurling was quite a character.

As I have lived quite a few years in Malta, I have love/hate relationship with the place. 

Closterman's book "Flames in the sky" gives good account of Beurling. I can quite trust his view, being a top ace talking admirably about fellow pilot (AFAIK they never met). 

The dude "rode the rails" from Quebec to SF to try to get to China to join the war, was thrown in jail for not having his papers, went home, crewed on a munitions ship to get to the UK to join the war, was turned away for not having his papers, sailed _back_ to Quebec to get his papers and then back to the UK... not sure if hero or dumbass or both :)

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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

Weird thing, Barnham and Buerling (as far as I can tell) don’t mention each other in their books, which is very strange given that there were probably like 20-some spit pilots on Malta during that time. 

Edited by Angrybk
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Barnham was an officer and Beurling an NCO.  They likely didn't mix at all, especially as they were in different squadrons.  It also seems their times didn't overlap by much.  Barnham was in Malta from 20 April to sometime in June 1942 while Beurling was there from 9 June to 31 October.

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  • 3 weeks later...
1 hour ago, Stuart Galbraith said:

Supposedly she was so damaged, she sank and split in two beside the quay. But they were still able to get the fuel off.

 

She lies scuttled off Malta, im surprised nobody has gone looking for her.

From reports on her damage, a well built ship that made it to port due to Royal Navy damage control and especially Royal Navy seamanship. 

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9 hours ago, Rick said:

From reports on her damage, a well built ship that made it to port due to Royal Navy damage control and especially Royal Navy seamanship. 

Let us not forget British  Merchant Marine guts and seamanship.  They crewed that ship save for a few DEMS gunners.

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17 hours ago, Rick said:

From reports on her damage, a well built ship that made it to port due to Royal Navy damage control and especially Royal Navy seamanship. 

Ohio was made almost unsinkable before going to Pedestal, i have somewhere a description of all modifications that were done to her.

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56 minutes ago, lucklucky said:

Ohio was made almost unsinkable before going to Pedestal, i have somewhere a description of all modifications that were done to her.

I wouldn't go so far as to say "unsinkable", but they did modify her to make her more shock resistant as near misses had caused her sister ship [i]SS Kentucky[/i] to be scuttled.

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