Aircraft – Spitfire, Me109
Crucial to the Allies in their battle with the Axis forces in North Africa,
Malta’s naval dockyards and airfields provided the only base from
which ships and aircraft could attack the convoys supplying Rommel’s
desert forces. The German High Command, fully aware of its importance,
made every effort to bomb the island out of existence. By April 1942 the
RAF was down to just six serviceable Spitfires and Hurricanes, Allied
convoys were being decimated unopposed, and Malta was in danger of starvation.
Two and a half years of relentless bombing had blitzed the dockyards out
of operation, prompting Axis Commander-in-Chief Field Marshal Kesselring
to tell Hitler that Malta was neutralised.
But the Field Marshal had failed to take into account the heroism of a
tiny force of RAF fighter pilots, the British Merchant Navy, the decisive
role played by the British aircraft carriers ‘Eagle’ and ‘Furious’,
the American carrier ‘Wasp’, and the iron will of the people
In the spring of 1942, when Spitfires flown from the decks of carriers
HMS Eagle and USS Wasp, arrived at the island’s battered airstrips,
the battle took a new turn. At last, though still heavily outnumbered,
the volunteer pilots from Britain, Australia, America, Canada, New Zealand
and other Commonwealth countries were able to put up a meaningful defence.
Never again would the Axis raids be met with only token resistance, and
gradually the Spitfires began to dominate the sky above the beleaguered
island. They had arrived in the nick of time.
Robert Taylor’s magnificent tribute to the gallant pilots who fought
against such overwhelming odds, and the people of Malta, depicts Australian
John Bisley of 126 Squadron dog-fighting with an Me109 from JG-53 during
one of the intense aerial air battles over Valetta in April 1942. Published
in 2002, each print in Robert’s important 60th Anniversary, of the
award of the George Cross to the island of Malta, Commemorative edition
is signed by pilots who fought and ultimately won the historic Battle
The Maltese people had withstood the siege with such resolve, King George
VI, by way of recognition, awarded the island of Malta the George Cross
– the highest decoration for civilian gallantry. Such was the sacrifice
made by the people of this tiny island.
Overall print size:33" wide x 23½" high
Signed and numbered by the artist Robert Taylor and countersigned by
six highly decorated pilots who flew Spitfires in defence of Malta, five
of whom are the only surviving Spitfire pilots to make Ace defending Malta,
with Art Roscoe being the only surviving American pilot from the siege.
Also includes a full colour matching numbered companion
print of the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious in Grand Harbour, Malta.
Signed by 3 fighter pilots who flew with the RAF and Fleet Air Arm from
carriers of the Royal Navy, in the defence of Malta and the Malta convoys.
Edition size 250 –
Signed and Numbered prints - 9 signatures -
Flight Lieutenant Ken Evans DFC
Joining the RAF in 1939, Ken Evans was posted to 600Squadron, where he
flew Blenheims and Beaufighters on night operations until June 1941. In
September he was posted to 130 Squadron on day fighters, and in early
1942 was ordered to Malta. He flew his Spitfire off HMS Eagle on 18 May
and joined 126 Squadron. Seeing much action over the island in June and
July, he was credited with 4 and 2 shared victories, plus 3 other aircraft
probably destroyed, then commissioned and awarded the DFC. Posted back
to England as an instructor, in September 1943 he transferred to 165 Squadron
as a flight commander.
Flight Lieutenant Ian Maclennan DFM
Canadian Ian Maclennan joined the RCAF in October 1940, arriving in England
in August 1941. He joined the 610 Squadron in February 1942, then 401
Squadron where he destroyed an FW190. Posted to Malta, he flew his Spitfire
off HMS Eagle on 9 June and shortly after transferred to 1435 Flight.
On Malta he claimed 7 victories and was awarded the DFM. He was commissioned
becoming a flight commander in November. In December he returned to England.
In February 1944 he joined 443 Squadron as a flight commander. On June
7 he was hit by ground fire whilst covering the Normandy beaches, crash-landed
and taken POW.
Flight Lieutenant Colin Parkinson DFC
Australian Colin Parkinson joined the RAAF in 1940, arriving in England
to join 19 Squadron flying Spitfires. In March 1942 he shot down a Do217.
In May he was posted to Malta, he flew his Spitfire off HMS Eagle on 9
June, with 603 Squadron. After scoring several victories he flew to Gibraltar
to lead in further Spitfires, taking off from HMS Furious to the island
on 17 August. Commissioned he now flew with 229 Squadron. On 9 October,
with ‘Winco’ Donaldson and ‘Screwball’ Beurling,
he performed a low-level beat-up and acrobatics over the presentation
of the George Cross to the people of Malta. He ended his tour of Malta
in November 1942 with the DFC and 10½ victories, plus probably
Flight Lieutenant Jack Rae DFC*
New Zealander Jack Rae joined RNZAF in September 1940, was posted to England
and joined 485 Squadron RNZAF. He claimed 2 victories before being posted
to 603 Squadron . With this unit he flew his Spitfire off USS Wasp to
Malta, on 20 April 1942. After being shot down over the island, he was
posted to 249 Squadron. During the following weeks he saw much action,
claiming 4 and one shared by the end of July. Posted back to the UK, he
returned to combat flying in May 1943, rejoining 485 Squadron. He rapidly
scored further victories, but on 22 August just after downing an FW190,
his engine failed forcing him to land in France where he was taken POW.
His final tally stood at 12 victories and 8 probables.
Squadron Leader Arthur Roscoe DFC
American Art Roscoe joined the RAF in February 1941, through the Clayton
Knight Committee that was recruiting American civilian pilots for the
RAF. Arriving in England he joined 71 ‘Eagle’ Squadron where
he made his first claims. In June 1942 he volunteered for service on Malta
and flew off the carrier HMS Furious on 11 August to join 229 Squadron.
During his final combat on 12 October he was shot down, wounded, and evacuated
from the island in a Liberator, which in turn crashed on landing at Gibraltar.
On recovery, he was posted to join 165 Squadron, then 242 Squadron, and
in May 1944 was given command of 232 Squadron. He had destroyed 4 enemy
aircraft and probably 3 more.
Flight Lieutenant Allan Scott DFM
Allan Scott joined the RAF in March 1941, joining 124 Squadron in October,
where he made his first claims. Ordered to Malta, he flew his Spitfire
off HMS Eagle to the island on July 21. Initially posted to 603 Squadron
he went to 1435 Squadron, seeing much action - including a victory during
Operation Pedestal on 13 August. He remained with this unit until December
1942. Whilst on Malta he was credited with at least 5 destroyed and a
further 2 probables, and received the DFM. Returning to the UK he was
commissioned in January 1943. In September he was posted to join 122 Squadron
and , after D-Day, to a MU unit. His final tally was 6 Victories.
Group Captain Billy Drake DSO, DFC* (companion print)
One of the Allies most outstanding Aces, Billy Drake flew in Malta commanding
the Krendi Spitfire Wing, scoring the last of his 24.5 victories, over
a MC202, on 7 July 1943. Previously he had flown Hurricanes with 1 Squadron
in France, scoring his first victory in May 1940, and Spitfires with 421
Flight during the Battle of Britain. Posted to command 112 Squadron in
the Western Desert in April 1942 flying P40 Kittyhawks, he led them with
great success, accumulating at least 15 victories, including 1 kill over
a Malta convoy.
Commander Mike Crosley DSC* Royal Navy (companion print)
Fleet Air Arm Ace Mike Crosley joined the carrier HMS Eagle in late 1941,
one of 4 FAA pilots flying Sea Hurricanes in defencce of the Malta convoys,
scoring 2 victories. In August 1942, during Operation Pedestal, he was
lucky to escape with his life after the carrier was torpedoed and sunk
by U73. She capsized within 7 minutes. He later joined HMS Biter flying
Sea Hurricanes in Operation Torch, and Seafires during D-Day. Appointed
CO of 880 Squadron FAA, he finished the war in the Far East, with 5.5
Lieutenant Commander Peter Twiss OBE DSC Royal Navy (companion
Peter Twiss flew Fulmars with the Fleet Air Arm off HMS Ark Royal, until
the carrier was sunk in the Med. He then flew with 807 Squadron FAA from
the carrier HMS Furious during the defence of the Malta convoys. In 1943
he commanded the first Seafire Sqadron during Operation Torch - the Allied
landing in North Africa. A test pilot after the war, in 1966 he held the
world speed record flying a Fairy Delta 2
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