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Pilot Officer John Bisley of 126 Squadron in combat with Me 109s from JG-53 during one of the intense aerial air battles over Valetta in April 1942. Between the summer of 1940 and the end of 1942, Malta became one of the most bombed places on earth. The RAF’s desperate fight to retain control of the diminutive Mediterranean island, and the defiant courage of the people of Malta, is one of the epic stories of World War Two.



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On 16 January 1941,at 13:55,Luftwaffe dive bombers appeared over Malta for the first time. Around 70 Ju87 Stukas attacked in waves,their main objective was the British carrier Illustrious.Six days earlier she had been nursed into Grand Harbour,Valletta,after being badly damaged on convoy escort duty,and now was being hastily patched up in the naval dockyard in French Creek.Luftwaffe pilots made several unsuccessful attempts to sink the carrier,and under cover of darkness on 23 January the big ship slipped away to Alexandria.