A Midshipman's Tale: Operation Pedestal, Malta Convoy 1942
At the beginning of 1942, more than two years after the start of the Second World War, much of mainland Europe and North Africa was under the control of Nazi Germany. Despite this great damage had been inflicted on German and Italian (Axis) shipping from the island of Malta, a vital British base in the Mediterranean.
Malta had suffered massive bombing since June 1940 and was running out of food, fuel and ammunition. By 1942 the siege seemed to be bringing Malta to the verge of surrender, a potentially decisive blow to the British Empire’s prestige.
In a desperate attempt to save the island a convoy of fourteen merchant ships was dispatched, escorted by the largest naval force protecting any convoy in the war. In the face of constant attack, five of the merchant ships made it to Malta. Their arrival changed the fortunes of the island and the course of the war.
On board HMS Rodney, one of the battleships, was a 17-year-old midshipman called Michael MccGwire. This is the account of Operation ‘Pedestal’ from his Midshipman’s Journal.