Operation Pedestal The fleet that battled to Malta, 1942

Max Hastings

Book - 2021

Renowned historian Max Hastings recreates one of the most thrilling events of World War II: Operation Pedestal, the British action to save its troops from starvation on Malta--an action-packed tale of courage, fortitude, loss, and triumph against all odds.

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Subjects
Published
New York, NY : Harper [2021]
Edition
First U.S. edition
Language
English
Physical Description
xxxiii, 428 pages, 32 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 26 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (page 371-402) and index.
ISBN
9780062980151
0062980157
Main Author
Max Hastings (author)
Other Authors
Martin (Cartographer) Brown (cartographer)
  • The Pedestal fleet
  • Glossary
  • "It would be a disaster of the first magnitude"
  • Men and ships
  • Sailing
  • First blood
  • "Stand by to ram"
  • The twelfth
  • Cruel sea
  • Force X
  • Scuttling charges
  • Retribution
  • Blenheim Day
  • Ohio
  • Grand Harbour
  • Appendix: Losses during Operation Pedestal.
Review by Library Journal Reviews

During April-May 1942, the Luftwaffe dropped more bombs on Malta, where the British had a bastion, than landed on London during the entire Blitz. Launched in August to deliver supplies to the stranded troops, Operation Pedestal managed to get through only a few ships, but Malta remained in Allied hands. With a 75,000-copy first printing. Copyright 2020 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Military historian Hastings (Operation Chastise) delivers a sterling account of the August 1942 mission to bring food, oil, and other supplies to the besieged island of Malta. By December 1941, when the Luftwaffe launched a months-long bombing campaign against the island, Malta was the sole "haven" for British naval and air forces in the Mediterranean between Gibraltar and Alexandria, Egypt. After numerous failed attempts to bring relief to the islanders, 14 merchant vessels set sail from Scotland and met up with 50 warships to make the journey across the Mediterranean. The convoy was bombed, torpedoed, and even rammed by German and Italian planes, submarines, and motorboats. Some heavily damaged vessels returned to Gibraltar, overloaded with survivors from sunken ships, while the rest of the fleet surged ahead in "two vague and straggled columns." Hasting details heated disagreements between commanders on both sides of the conflict, and pays close attention to chaotic events, including a near-mutiny and the looting of food and rum, aboard the USS Ohio, an oil tanker that eventually limped into port at Malta "with the wrecks of two enemy aircraft protruding from her deck piping and derricks." Buoyed by prodigious research and vivid prose, this is a brilliant illumination of one of WWII's most dramatic episodes. Agent: Andrew Wylie, the Wylie Agency. (June) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Renowned historian Max Hastings recreates one of the most thrilling events of World War II: Operation Pedestal, the British action to save its troops from starvation on Malta--an action-packed tale of courage, fortitude, loss, and triumph against all odds.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

In this action-packed story of courage, fortitude, loss and triumph, a renowned historian recreates one of the most thrilling events of World War II — the British action to save its troops from starvation on Malta. 75,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Renowned historian Max Hastings recreates one of the most thrilling events of World War II: Operation Pedestal, the British action to save its troops from starvation on Malta'an action-packed tale of courage, fortitude, loss, and triumph against all odds.In 1940, Hitler had two choices when it came to the Mediterranean region: stay out, or commit sufficient forces to expel the British from the Middle East. Against his generals' advice, the Fuhrer committed a major strategic blunder. He ordered the Wehrmacht to seize Crete, allowing the longtime British bastion of Malta to remain in Allied hands. Over the fall of 1941, the Royal Navy and RAF, aided by British intelligence, used the island to launch a punishing campaign against the Germans, sinking more than 75 percent of their supply ships destined for North Africa.But by spring 1942, the British lost their advantage. In April and May, the Luftwaffe dropped more bombs on Malta than London received in the blitz. A succession of British attempts to supply and reinforce the island by convoy during the spring and summer of 1942 failed. British submarines and surface warships were withdrawn, and the remaining forces were on the brink of starvation.Operation Pedestal chronicles the ensuing British mission to save those troops. Over twelve days in August, German and Italian forces faced off against British air and naval fleets in one of the fiercest battles of the war, while ships packed with supplies were painstakingly divided and dispersed. In the end only a handful of the Allied ships made it, most important among them the SS Ohio, carrying the much-needed fuel to the men on Malta.As Hastings makes clear, while the Germans claimed victory, it was the British who ultimately prevailed, for Malta remained a crucial asset that helped lead to the Nazis' eventual defeat. While the Royal Navy never again attempted an operation on such scale, Hasting argues that without that August convoy the British on Malta would not have survived. In the cruel accountancy of war, the price was worth paying.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Renowned historian Max Hastings recreates one of the most thrilling events of World War II: Operation Pedestal, the British action to save its troops from starvation on Malta—an action-packed tale of courage, fortitude, loss, and triumph against all odds.In 1940, Hitler had two choices when it came to the Mediterranean region: stay out, or commit sufficient forces to expel the British from the Middle East. Against his generals’ advice, the Fuhrer committed a major strategic blunder. He ordered the Wehrmacht to seize Crete, allowing the longtime British bastion of Malta to remain in Allied hands. Over the fall of 1941, the Royal Navy and RAF, aided by British intelligence, used the island to launch a punishing campaign against the Germans, sinking more than 75 percent of their supply ships destined for North Africa.But by spring 1942, the British lost their advantage. In April and May, the Luftwaffe dropped more bombs on Malta than London received in the blitz. A succession of British attempts to supply and reinforce the island by convoy during the spring and summer of 1942 failed. British submarines and surface warships were withdrawn, and the remaining forces were on the brink of starvation.Operation Pedestal chronicles the ensuing British mission to save those troops. Over twelve days in August, German and Italian forces faced off against British air and naval fleets in one of the fiercest battles of the war, while ships packed with supplies were painstakingly divided and dispersed. In the end only a handful of the Allied ships made it, most important among them the SS Ohio, carrying the much-needed fuel to the men on Malta.As Hastings makes clear, while the Germans claimed victory, it was the British who ultimately prevailed, for Malta remained a crucial asset that helped lead to the Nazis’ eventual defeat. While the Royal Navy never again attempted an operation on such scale, Hasting argues that without that August convoy the British on Malta would not have survived. In the cruel accountancy of war, the price was worth paying.