Day Three of this wonderfully entertaining, educational and mildly eccentric History Festival in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside - after all, where else could you find Roman Legionaries joining American GI's on a 100 year old ferris wheel?
Day Three dawned damp and drizzly, but by mid-morning the blue sky was back and the sun was out. The day got off to a cracking start in the Hiscox tent where Max Hastings led his audience through Operation Pedestal – the fleet that battled to Malta.
In 1942, following a series of Allied disasters it appeared that the forces of evil would triumph. Malta, the last bastion in the Mediterranean, seemed likely to surrender. Churchill desperately need a victory and decided that Malta must be saved – at any cost. Fifty ships, fourteen of them merchant ships carrying fuel, food, ammunition, vital supplies set sail from Britain in August.
The speaker described the perilous journey, giving a detailed, dramatic and harrowing narrative of the convoy’s tortured progress, using contemporary footage and eyewitness accounts. The crews were subjected to U-boat attacks, strafing from the air, constant changes of direction to avert the threats and were regularly convinced that their last moments had come.