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Operation Pedestal and the Feast of Santa Maria

On the 15 August Malta celebrates the Feast of Santa Maria and on this day we also remember Operation Pedestal, the convoy that managed to reach a besieged Malta with essential supplies, saving Malta from starvation.

During the summer of 1942, Malta was being blitzed by constant bombardment by the Italian Air Force and the Lutwaffe.   Operation Pedestal, or the Santa Maria Convoy’ as it became known in Malta, was the final, mammoth effort to supply Malta before she was forced to surrender.

This short feature is a tribute to the people of Malta, our grandparents who suffered great hardship and starvation during World War II, but who bore it with amazing fortitude and bravery.   The feature is also a tribute to sailors who risked their lives and to the 400 who perished under attack in the Mediterranean in their mission to reach Malta with desperately needed supplies.

During the convoy’s passage, the tanker Ohio, carrying aircraft fuel and kerosene, was singled out and ferociously attacked by the enemy.  She was torpedoed and holed, fire broke out, her boilers blew up and her engines failed.   She was twice abandoned and twice reboarded at sea.   Repeated attempts to tow her failed, but the tanker taking in water,  did not sink and with the aid of a cluster of the remaining damaged vessels she was nursed, sinking, into harbour on 15 August 1942, rescuing a stricken, starving Malta from surrender (which was planned for 31 August 1942).   This day was declared, and still is, a public holiday in Malta.

We hope that through this feature we revive memories of this unique event in our country’s history and of special interest to our project are the Victory Kitchens, the rationing and the many hardships endured when Malta was under siege and being starved to the very brink of surrender.

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See the spanish translation.