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‘109s! Two, head-on views diving from my left, blinking with light. Curling blue tracers strand about me as I turn towards them. A third got my sight on him for an instant before he went under my nose. My helmets too big for me. Turn pressure pulls it over my eyes. Can’t see. Stupid. Push it up and straighten out: that’s better.
‘Two more 109s, from the right this time. Turn in towards them. Can’t turn sharply enough. Damn the helmet! Another 109 below me. Drop on to his tail. I’ll get him all right. … My aircraft shudders and shudders and shudders and shudders as I pour bullets and shells into it. It bursts with black smoke and topples over sideways.’
Malta Spitfire Pilot is the journal of Flight Lieutenant Denis Barnham. Having joined the RAF at the outbreak of war, Denis grew from an inexperienced young pilot into a battle-hardened Spitfire ace – most of which occurred in the 200 gruelling operational hours that followed his arrival on the embattled island of Malta, in a period of just ten weeks in the spring and summer of 1942.
Malta was of great strategic importance to the Allies and was pivotal to their success in North Africa as it provided the perfect launching pad for aircraft to attack Axis supply ships in the Mediterranean. As a direct result, the island, in turn, suffered intensive aerial bombardment by the Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica. This memoir was written by the author as he and his fellow pilots battled against terrible odds and under constant attack. It is one man’s dramatic and moving account of the air battle to save Malta.
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