Carrier Malta

8 Feb

IMG_0813Malta was often thought of as an aircraft carrier in WWII. 18 miles long and about 12 wide the main island is not much bigger than a ship and its position in the middle of the Med, directly on the route Mussolini and later Hitler wanted to use to supply their efforts in Tunisia and the rest of North Africa, made it an essential launching platform for war planes.

On the canals last year we met an American man who had been a Spitfire pilot based here during those years. Now I know that he must have arrived a little later in the conflict because it took the Allies a few years to realise how fiercely the islanders and the few antiquated air defenders were prepared to fight for their freedom. The first planes were three Gloster Gladiator biplanes from left over from the Great War. There were actually four pristine planes found in their packing crates, only three were used though, one was cannibalised for spares.

At times and for weeks on end the island was preyed on by up to 350 bomber raids each day!

Apparently when the raids were by Italians in the earlier parts of the war, the damage wasn’t too severe firstly because a large proportion of the bombs failed to detonate, secondly though because the Italians are said to have had little heart for fighting the Gladiators and then the Hurricanes, the terriers of the skies however shot up and tired they might have been. The Italians used to drop their bombs as quickly as they could and then turn tail for home 90 miles away. Things changed for the worse when the Germans took over the attacks, efficient bombing and deadly intent.

But today this carrier in the Med feels like a ship for another reason. The wind is howling, the rain is pelting and apart from the stability of the deck, for the rest it feels like we’re at sea in a storm. I was up early this morning for a meeting I go to each week. (My name is James and I’m an… entrepreneur starting a new business, take my card and I’ll take yours). From our flat we take the lift down to Floor -1 and it empties us into the basement parking, a small space with seven garages. As I walked up the ramp in the dark (6h15) I looked at the road outside and stopped. Something was wrong.

The black bin bags that line the road each morning were on the move. By themselves. Not flapping, moving. Like slow-motion bowling balls sliding down a polished wooden lane. My fuggy mind didn’t understand what was going on until I registered the howl of the wind, the ghoulish sounding gale lashed the streets with cold, fierce rain and the song of the weird sisters. I stopped to fasten up my heavy weather jacket and stepped onto the deck.

It is fantastic to be here on this dramatic, freezing windy and stormy ship. I pray that even whilst it stays just where it always has been, it takes us where we hope to go.

2 Responses to “Carrier Malta”

  1. Robert February 8, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

    Lovely, wild descrioption, almost book worlthjly

  2. LV February 11, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

    Beautifully written, James! A wonderful read. May that Maltese ship indeed take you all where you want to go. Keep safe and warm. Lots of love. xx

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