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Spitfire Heaven - Hurricane Hell (Hardback)

Malta’s Battle for Survival in WW2 By Those Who Were There

Aviation > Aircraft > Spitfires & Hurricanes Aviation > Pilots Aviation > Royal Air Force WWII

By Martin W Bowman
Imprint: Air World
Pages: 248
Illustrations: 37 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399033398
Published: 31st May 2024


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‘The tempo of life here is just indescribable,’ reported one of the fighter pilots sent to the beleaguered and besieged island of Malta. ‘The morale of all is magnificent – pilots, ground crews and Army, but it is certainly tough. The bombing is continuous on and off every day. One lives here only to destroy the Hun and hold him at bay; everything else, living conditions, sleep, food and all the ordinary standards of life have gone by the board. It all makes the Battle of Britain and fighter-sweeps seem child’s play in comparison.’

The aerial combat over and near Malta was some of the most ferocious of the Second World War. This is graphically detailed by the RAF pilots and their comrades from the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, in their own inimitable style. Spitfire Heaven – Hurricane Hell includes more than 120 first-hand accounts of the air war from the airfields built on this small, rocky island, and from the ‘Club Runs’ where the fighters were flown off the carriers of the Royal Navy and the US Navy straight into battle.

These accounts include the previously unpublished story of Flying Officer Norman William Lee, as well as excerpts from the unpublished diary of an American airman, Pilot Officer Donald McLeod DFC. Serving in 121 Squadron, McLeod was among the reinforcements famously shipped to Malta on the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle.

Also included in this gripping insight of the air war over this part of the Mediterranean are the experiences of Leading Aircraftman Ray Roberts, a 20-year-old engine fitter attached to 69 Squadron, who spent two years on Malta under siege conditions. There are also the reminiscences of ‘Woody’ Woodhall, a senior ground controller and a veteran of the Battle of Britain.

These recollections spell out the severity of the daily pressures of incessant combat, hunger, disease and claustrophobic confinement on a remote island no bigger than the Isle of Wight. Their personal and inspirational accounts are testimony to the people who stood firm at a time of terrible adversity – to the heroism and skill of the pilots who day by day fought to the limit of their endurance, to the tenacity and courage of the groundcrews who toiled to keep their Spitfires and Hurricanes flying, and to the fortitude of the Maltese people whose indomitable spirit earned them all the George Cross.

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About Martin W Bowman

With well over 100 published books, MARTIN W. BOWMAN is one of Britain’s best-known aviation historians and authors. Specialising in Second World War history and post-war aviation, Martin’s interest in these subjects was driven by the prolific number of RAF and USAAF air bases that were established in his native East Anglia. His previous books have included works such as Legend of the LancasterConfounding the ReichDuxford and the Big Wings, as well as numerous titles in the exhaustive Air War series, which, between them, provide extensive coverage of operations carried out on D-Day and during the Market Garden offensive at Arnhem.

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