Hermes' Wings

History, Writing and Personal Musings

The Island that Refused to Die


Book in progress (November 2013-present)

Status (May 2018): Manuscript complete. 550 pages. In the market for representation.
Above mast painting by Rowland Hilder, 1942


Occupying a strategic place in the narrows of the Mediterranean Sea, Malta was a British Imperial island during the Second World War. It was a rocky aircraft carrier from where the British could launch attacks on Sicily, and its natural harbor allowed the Royal Navy to exercise dominion over the middle sea.

The Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, was determined to take the island for his own, and in June 1940, he had the men and the machines to do it. But he (and later the Germans) had badly underestimated the fighting spirit of islanders. Although out-manned and outgunned, Royal Air Force aircraft flown by British, Commonwealth and American pilots harried enemy attackers and Allied vessels based there wreaked havoc on German and Italian shipping. The Nazis responded by trying to blast Malta off the map and starving it into submission.

Besieged, the island hung on against the odds, kept alive through a tenuous and erratic supply line (vulnerable convoys sailing from Gibraltar and Alexandria), wielding massive influence on the battles raging in North Africa and sparking fierce naval clashes which gutted the Axis merchant fleets and scarred the Italian Regia Marina, that other Royal Navy. The phrase “naval battles of World War II” may conjure imagery of the Pacific, but more surface engagements were fought in the Mediterranean than in any other place during the war — 50, compared to 36 in the Pacific and 49 in the Atlantic.

Malta’s ordeal lasted for over 900 days (nearly two-and-a-half years) as her defenders fought a lonely, heroic campaign, a private little war against the might of two Axis militaries and paving the way for the Allied liberation of the Mediterranean.

Below follows some of the assorted art and graphics connected with this work. They’ll probably never be published in the way I intend anyway.





Malta Map 1942



Photo section

Malta Ph-1Malta Ph-2Malta Ph-3Malta Ph-4Malta Ph-5Malta Ph-6Malta Ph-7Malta Ph-8Malta Ph-9Malta Ph-10Malta Ph-11Malta Ph-12Malta Ph-13Malta Ph-14Malta Ph-16Malta Ph-17Malta Ph-18Malta Ph-19Malta Ph-20Malta Ph-21Malta Ph-23

9 responses to “The Island that Refused to Die

  1. Mark Hoskins November 14, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    I was very interested to read your notes on Ronald Chaffe. I am currently writing a definitive history of Bristol Rugby Club, and he played one game for us in 1935-36. No official list has survived of the club’s WW2 fallen, but I knew he was one of them. However, I only knew he had died off the coast of Malta, so your notes have been of great value and will be acknowledged in the book. The only other info I have on him is that he attended Cotham School in Bristol and is listed on the war memorial there.

    Mark Hoskins

    Historian Bristol Rugby

    • Akhil Kadidal November 14, 2013 at 9:08 pm

      Glad to be of help.

      Yeah, Ron Chaffe was a very colorful character. His untimely death was the stuff of a Homeric tragedy. Completely unnecessary.

      I have additional information about his time on Malta which could be of interest – although it may not be pertinent to your book.

  2. Steven Preston March 4, 2014 at 11:13 am

    I am very interesting in learning when this book will be published.

    • Akhil Kadidal March 4, 2014 at 1:47 pm

      Thanks for the interest,Steven.

      The book is almost complete, but I’ve been caught up in a side book project on nature for an organization – which has taken a protracted amount of time to finish.

      Nevertheless, I plan to wrap up “Malta” by June and hope to move it on to the publishing stage by the end of the year.

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