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Operation Pedestal : The Fleet that Battled to Malta 1942 - Max Hastings

Operation Pedestal

The Fleet that Battled to Malta 1942

By: Max Hastings

Paperback | 30 January 2023

At a Glance

Paperback


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The Sunday Times bestseller

In August 1942, beleaguered Malta was within weeks of surrender to the Axis, because its 300,000 people could no longer be fed. Churchill made a personal decision that at all costs, the ‘island fortress’ must be saved. This was not merely a matter of strategy, but of national prestige, when Britain’s fortunes and morale had fallen to their lowest ebb.

The largest fleet the Royal Navy committed to any operation of the western war was assembled to escort fourteen fast merchantmen across a thousand of miles of sea defended by six hundred German and Italian aircraft, together with packs of U-boats and torpedo craft. The Mediterranean battles that ensued between 11 and 15 August were the most brutal of Britain’s war at sea, embracing four aircraft-carriers, two battleships, seven cruisers, scores of destroyers and smaller craft. The losses were appalling: defeat seemed to beckon.

This is the saga Max Hastings unfolds in his first full length narrative of the Royal Navy, which he believes was the most successful of Britain’s wartime services. As always, he blends the ‘big picture’ of statesmen and admirals with human stories of German U-boat men, Italian torpedo-plane crews, Hurricane pilots, destroyer and merchant-ship captains, ordinary but extraordinary seamen.

Operation Pedestal describes catastrophic ship sinkings, including that of the aircraft-carrier Eagle, together with struggles to rescue survivors and salvage stricken ships. Most moving of all is the story of the tanker Ohio, indispensable to Malta’s survival, victim of countless Axis attacks. In the last days of the battle, the ravaged hulk was kept under way only by two destroyers, lashed to her sides. Max Hastings describes this as one of the most extraordinary tales he has ever recounted. Until the very last hours, no participant on either side could tell what would be the outcome of an epic of wartime suspense and courage.

About the Author

Max Hastings is the author of twenty-eight books, most about conflict, and between 1986 and 2002 served as editor in chief of the Daily Telegraph, then as edi­tor of the Evening Standard. He has won many prizes, for both his journalism and his books, the most recent of which are the bestsellers Vietnam, The Secret War, Catastrophe, and All Hell Let Loose. Knighted in 2002, Hastings is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, an Honorary Fellow of King’s College London, and a Bloomberg Opinion colum­nist. He has two grown children, Charlotte and Harry, and lives with his wife, Penny, in West Berkshire, where they garden enthusiastically.
Industry Reviews
‘One of the most dramatic forgotten chapters of the war, as told in a new book by the incomparable Max Hastings’ - DAILY MAIL

Other Editions and Formats

Hardcover

Published: 13th May 2021

In Stock and Aims to ship next day

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