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Battle Of Malta

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The Great Siege of Malta - Ottoman Turks vs. Knights of St. John

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He acknowledged that the chances of success in an air operation of that kind were low; German airborne forces did not undertake any such operations again.

This had important consequences for Malta, as it indicated the island was only at risk from an Axis siege. When, in June, Hitler attacked the Soviet Union under Operation Barbarossa , Fliegerkorps X departed for the Eastern Front, and the Regia Aeronautica was left to continue its highly effective air campaign against Malta in the coming months.

Supply issues were bad, the small German force left was forced to abandon operations on 22 April By early May , the Luftwaffe had flown 1, bomber, 1, fighter and reconnaissance missions for just 44 losses.

Still, he had every intention of taking the offensive. Outside his office, in the underground headquarters at Lascaris , he hung a sign outside; "Less depends on the size of the dog in the fight than on the size of the fight in the dog".

Within a few hours Lloyd had made an inspection tour of the airfields and the main workshops at Kalafrana. The state of the island was worse than he expected.

The slackening of German air activity had allowed the number of aircraft to increase, but the RAF still had fewer than 60 machines of all types.

Maintenance was difficult. Hardly any spare or replacement parts were available—spares had to be obtained by sifting through the debris of wrecks or by cannibalising undamaged aircraft.

Furthermore, the airfields were too small; there was no heavy equipment to work with; and even the commonest sorts of tools, such as hammers and wrenches, were all but impossible to find.

All refuelling had to be done by hand from individual drums. The shelter was also inadequate, so there was little protection for what equipment they did have.

Most aircraft were clustered together on open runways, presenting tempting targets. At Kalafrana, all the buildings were close together and above ground.

The single engine-repair facility on Malta was located right next to the only test benches. Lloyd himself said, "a few bombs on Kalafrana in the summer of would have ruined any hope of Malta ever operating an air force".

Usually, the protection of air defences and naval assets on the island would have had priority. Certainly bringing in more supplies would have made greater strategic sense, before risking going on to the offensive and thus in turn risking the wrath of the enemy.

But the period was an eventful one. RAF forces on Malta could not afford to sit idle; they could prevent Rommel's advance, or slow it down, by striking at his supply lines.

Malta was the only place from where British strike aircraft could launch their attacks. Lloyd's bombers and a small flotilla of submarines were the only forces available to harass Rommel's supply lines into the autumn.

Only then did the surface fleets return to Malta to support the offensive. With the exception of coal, fodder, kerosene and essential civilian supplies were such that a reserve of 8—15 months was built up.

Operation Substance was particularly successful in July The supplies included spares and aircraft. Around 60 bombers and Hurricanes were now available.

This convoy proved critical to saving Malta, as its supplies were deemed to be essential when the Germans returned in December.

In mid, new squadrons—No. Naval carriers flew in a total of 81 more fighters in April—May. By 12 May, there were 50 Hurricanes on the island.

On 21 May, No. By early August, Malta now had 75 fighters and anti-aircraft guns. Bristol Blenheim bombers also joined the defenders and began offensive operations.

Besides preparing for offensive operations and reinforcing the RAF on the island, Lloyd also rectified many of the deficiencies.

Thousands of Maltese and 3, British Army soldiers were drafted in to better protect the airfields. Even technical staff, clerks and flight crews helped when required.

Dispersal strips were built, repair shops were moved underground from dockyards and airfields. Underground shelters were also created in the belief that the Luftwaffe would soon return.

In the attack, 15 men were killed and 18 captured, and most of the boats were lost. The bridge was never restored, and it was only in that a new one was built in its place.

Lloyd asked his bombers to attack at mast-height, increasing accuracy but making them easier targets for Italian anti-aircraft defences.

Part of the reason for this favourable outcome in November , was the arrival of Force K of the Royal Navy, which during the Battle of the Duisburg Convoy sank all the ships, which practically blockaded Libyan ports.

Following the disaster and with a resurgence of the Axis aerial bombardment of Malta, surface ships were withdrawn from the central Mediterranean in January While Italian bombing was again proving successful against the British, the Luftwaffe returned in force in December to renew intensive bombing.

Eight Marylands, two other aircraft, three Beaufighters, one Blenheim fighter and many bombers were also lost.

The mounting shipping supply losses affected Geisler's ability to support Erwin Rommel and his forces, which caused tension between the Wehrmacht and the Luftwaffe.

Geisler was to be returned to Sicily with his remaining air strength to solve the issue. However, the Germans backed down over Italian protests.

On 6 October Geisler did extend his air sector responsibilities to cover the Tripoli-Naples sea route to curtail losses.

They quickly eliminated Malta's striking force, which was beyond the range of fighter escort while over the Mediterranean.

In the first two months, around 20 RAF bombers and reconnaissance aircraft were shot down. The only notable triumph was the sinking of the 13,ton Victoria merchant ship, one of the fastest merchantmen afloat, by a Fairey Albacore of Squadron, flown by Lieutenant Baxter Ellis, on 23 January.

Over the island, the defensive arm of the RAF was also put under pressure. Kesselring began with a raid on New Year's Day, the 1,th raid of the war.

Of the fighters that had passed through or stayed on the island since the war began, only 28 remained. One-third of all raids were directed against airfields.

The usual tactic involved a sweep ahead of the bombers by German fighters to clear the skies; this worked, and air superiority was maintained.

Only slight losses were suffered by the bombers. Dobbie and the British naval and air commanders argued for modern aircraft, particularly Spitfires , to be sent to Malta.

The pilots told Embry that the Hurricanes were useless and that the Spitfire was their only hope.

The squadron leaders argued the inferiority of their aircraft was affecting morale. Embry agreed and recommended that Spitfires be sent; the type began arriving in March On 29—30 April , a plan for the invasion of the island was approved by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini during a meeting at Berchtesgaden.

It envisaged an airborne assault with one German and one Italian airborne division, under the command of German General Kurt Student. This would have been followed by a seaborne landing of two or three divisions protected by the Regia Marina.

The Italians, in agreement with Kesselring, made the invasion of Malta the priority in the region. However, two major factors stopped Hitler from giving the operation the green light.

The first was Erwin Rommel. Due to Kesselring's pounding of the island the supply lines to North Africa had been secured. He was able to gain the ascendancy in North Africa once again.

Although Rommel believed Malta should be invaded, he insisted the conquest of Egypt and the Suez Canal, not Malta, was the priority.

The second was Hitler himself. After the Battle of Crete in May—June , Hitler was nervous about using paratroopers to invade the island since the Crete campaign had cost this arm heavy losses, and he started to procrastinate in making a decision.

Kesselring complained. Hitler proposed a compromise. He suggested that if the Egyptian border was reached once again in the coming months the fighting at the time was taking place in Libya , the Axis could invade in July or August when a full moon would provide ideal conditions for a landing.

Although frustrated, Kesselring was relieved the operation had seemingly been postponed rather than shelved. Before the Spitfires arrived, other attempts were made to reduce losses.

Lloyd had requested a highly experienced combat leader be sent and Turner's experience flying with Douglas Bader over Europe meant he was qualified to lead the unit.

All but one reached the island. By 21 April just 27 Spitfires were still airworthy, and by evening that had fallen to The overwhelming Axis bombardments had also substantially eroded Malta's offensive naval and air capabilities.

Often, three to five Italian bombers would fly very low over their targets and drop their bombs with precision, regardless of the RAF attacks and ground fire.

Along with the advantage in the air, the Germans soon discovered that British submarines were operating from Manoel Island , not Grand Harbour, and exploited their air superiority to eliminate the threat.

The base came under attack, the vessels had to spend most of their time submerged, and the surrounding residences where crews had enjoyed brief rest periods were abandoned.

Hitler's strategy of neutralising Malta by siege seemed to be working. The Germans lost aircraft in the operations.

The Allies moved to increase the number of Spitfires on the island. On 9 May, the Italians announced 37 Axis losses.

On 10 May, the Axis lost 65 aircraft destroyed or damaged in large air battles over the island. The Hurricanes were able to focus on the Axis bombers and dive-bombers at lower heights, while the Spitfires, with their superior rate of climb, engaged enemy aircraft at higher levels.

With such a force established, the RAF had the firepower to deal with any Axis attacks. By the spring of , the Axis air forces ranged against the island were at their maximum strength.

Bomber units included Junkers Ju 88s of II. After the battles of May and June, the air attacks were much reduced in August and September.

The island appeared to the Axis forces to be neutralised as a threat to their convoys. Rommel could now look forward to offensive operations with the support of the Luftwaffe in North Africa.

Even so, he was soon back in Egypt fighting at El Alamein. Despite the reduction in direct air pressure over Malta itself, the situation on the island was serious.

It was running out of all essential commodities, particularly food and water, as the bombing had crippled pumps and distribution pipes.

Clothing was also hard to come by. All livestock had been slaughtered, and the lack of leather meant people were forced to use curtains and used tyres to replace clothing and shoe soles.

Although the civilian population was enduring, the threat of starvation was very real. The move was designed to split Axis naval forces attempting to intervene.

Although he could afford this diversion, he could maintain a standing patrol of only four Spitfires over the convoy.

If Axis aircraft attacked as they were withdrawing, they had to stay and fight. Baling out if the pilots ran low on fuel was the only alternative to landing on Malta.

The pilots had to hope that they would be picked up by the ships. The losses of the convoy were heavy. Three destroyers and 11 merchant vessels were also sunk.

They torpedoed and sank the heavy cruiser Trento and damaged the battleship Littorio. A further 16 Malta-based pilots were lost in the operations.

Also, beached galleys were almost impossible to defeat in close combat, as they could be continually reinforced from shore.

The Angevin crews rushed to launch their galleys, and they moved out in a disorganized manner. Roger first used his Catalan archers, then closed for hand-to-hand combat.

Cornut was killed by Roger in single combat when he boarded Roger's flagship, but Bonvin broke through the line with some galleys and escaped.

About 10 galleys were captured. This wiki. This wiki All wikis. Sign In Don't have an account? Elmo first and had moved his heavy artillery into the fort.

Admiral Turgut was among those killed. Mustafa seized the initiative and ordered an offensive, transporting his troops wide of the Grand Harbour to avoid Fort St.

Michael on the Senglea peninsula. A cleverly planned assault from sea and land was rebuffed, the Ottomans taking more heavy losses.

The Ottomans suffered one of the heaviest sustained bombardments the world had yet seen. Eventually an all-out attack was ordered in August , and the Ottomans were on the brink of success when, in an audacious move, a small force of knights attacked the Ottoman camp.

Thinking that the knights had Spanish reinforcements, Mustafa retreated and the advantage was lost. By the end of August, and after a series of costly attacks, Mustafa attempted to break through with siege towers, but each time the towers were destroyed.

As Mustafa settled in for a long siege, news arrived that a Christian relief force had landed on the north of the island. Mustafa retreated, but the forces clashed and less than half of the Ottoman force managed to board the boats.

The invasion had failed, and the Maltese received the admiration of Christian Europe and funds to build stronger defenses. For the Ottomans, this was their worst reversal in more than a century, and it gave Christian Europe hope that Turkish expansion could be halted.

Dragut and the Knights were continually at loggerheads. In , Dragut and the Ottoman admiral Sinan decided to take Malta and invaded the island with a force of about 10, men.

After only a few days, however, Dragut broke off the siege and moved to the neighbouring island of Gozo, where he bombarded the Cittadella for several days.

The Knights' governor on Gozo, Gelatian de Sessa , having decided that resistance was futile, threw open the doors to the Cittadella.

The corsairs sacked the town and took virtually the entire population of Gozo approximately 5, people into captivity. Dragut and Sinan then sailed south to Tripoli, where they soon seized the Knights' garrison there.

They initially installed a local leader, Aga Morat , as governor, but subsequently Dragut himself took control of the area. The two new forts were built in the remarkably short period of six months in All three forts proved crucial during the Great Siege.

The next several years were relatively calm, although the guerre de course , or running battle , between Muslims and Christians continued unabated.

He continued his raids on non-Christian shipping, and his private vessels are known to have taken some 3, Muslim and Jewish slaves during his tenure as Grand Master.

By Dragut was causing the Christian powers such distress, even raiding the coasts of Spain, that Philip II organized the largest naval expedition in fifty years to evict the corsair from Tripoli.

The Knights joined the expedition, which consisted of about 54 galleys and 14, men. This ill-fated campaign climaxed in the Battle of Djerba in May , when Ottoman admiral Piyale Pasha surprised the Christian fleet off the Tunisian island of Djerba , capturing or sinking about half the Christian ships.

The battle was a disaster for the Christians and it marked the high point of Ottoman domination of the Mediterranean. After Djerba there could be little doubt that the Turks would eventually attack Malta again.

Malta was of immense strategic importance to the Ottoman long-term plan to conquer more of Europe, since Malta was a stepping stone to Sicily , and Sicily in turn could be a base for an invasion of the Kingdom of Naples.

Meanwhile, the Spaniards continued to prey on Turkish shipping. In mid, Romegas , the Order's most notorious seafarer, captured several large merchantmen, including one that belonged to the Chief Eunuch of the Seraglio , and took numerous high-ranking prisoners, including the governor of Cairo, the governor of Alexandria, and the former nurse of Sultan Suleiman's daughter.

Romegas' exploits gave the Turks a casus belli , and by the end of , Suleiman had resolved to wipe the Knights of Malta off the face of the earth.

By early , Grand Master de Valette's network of spies in Constantinople had informed him that the invasion was imminent. The Turkish armada, which set sail from Constantinople on 22 March, was by all accounts one of the largest assembled since antiquity.

According to one of the earliest and most complete histories of the siege, that of the Order's official historian Giacomo Bosio , the fleet consisted of vessels, which included galleys , seven galliots small galleys , and four galleasses large galleys , the remainder being transport vessels, etc.

The Italian mercenary Francisco Balbi di Correggio , serving as an arquebusier in the Spanish corps , gave the forces as: [4].

The Knight Hipolito Sans, in a lesser-known account, also lists about 48, invaders, although it is not clear how independent his work is from Balbi's.

In a letter written to Philip II only four days after the siege began, de Valette himself says that "the number of soldiers that will make land is between 15, and 16,, including seven thousand arquebusiers or more, that is four thousand janissaries and three thousand sipahis.

Indeed, a letter written during the siege by the liaison with Sicily, Captain Vincenzo Anastagi , states the enemy force was only 22, and several other letters of the time give similar numbers.

Before the Turks arrived, de Valette ordered the harvesting of all the crops, including unripened grain, to deprive the enemy of any local food supplies.

Furthermore, the Knights poisoned all wells with bitter herbs and dead animals. The Turkish armada arrived at dawn on Friday, 18 May, but did not at once make land.

Piyale wished to shelter it at Marsamxett Harbour , just north of the Grand Harbour, in order to avoid the sirocco and be nearer the action, but Mustafa disagreed, because to anchor the fleet there would require first reducing Fort St.

Elmo, which guarded the entrance to the harbour. Mustafa intended, according to these accounts, to attack the poorly defended former capital Mdina , which stood in the centre of the island, then attack Forts St.

Angelo and Michael by land. If so, an attack on Fort St. Elmo would have been entirely unnecessary. Nevertheless, Mustafa relented, apparently believing only a few days would be necessary to destroy St.

After the Turks were able to emplace their guns, at the end of May they commenced a bombardment. It certainly seems true that Suleiman had seriously blundered in splitting the command three ways.

He not only split command between Piyale and Mustafa, but he ordered both of them to defer to Dragut when he arrived from Tripoli. Contemporary letters from spies in Constantinople, however, suggest that the plan had always been to take Fort St.

Elmo first. While the Ottomans were landing, the knights and Maltese made some last-minute improvements to the defences of Birgu and Senglea.

The Ottomans set up their main camp in Marsa , which was close to the Knights' fortifications. The darkness of the night then became as bright as day, due to the vast quantity of artificial fires.

So bright was it indeed that we could see St Elmo quite clearly. The gunners of St Angelo Having correctly calculated that the Turks would seek to secure a disembarkation point for their fleet and would thus begin the campaign by attempting to capture Fort St Elmo, de Valette sent reinforcements and concentrated half of his heavy artillery within the fort.

The unremitting bombardment of the fort from three dozen guns on the higher ground of Mt. Sciberras began on 27 May, [31] and reduced the fort to rubble within a week, but de Valette evacuated the wounded nightly and resupplied the fort from across the harbour.

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Battle Of Malta
Battle Of Malta The Siege of Malta (also known as the Great Siege of Malta) took place in when the Ottoman Empire invaded the island, then held by the Knights Hospitaller (also known as the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, Knights of Malta, Knights of Rhodes, and Chevaliers of Malta). Battle of Malta hosted at GGPoker from November 1 through November 22 Dublin, Ireland (October 29, ) – GGPoker and Casino Malta by Olympic Casino Read More» GGPoker & Battle Of Malta Announce $3,, Main Event. The Great Siege of Malta occurred in when the Ottoman Empire attempted to conquer the island of Malta, then held by the Knights Hospitaller. The siege lasted nearly four months, from 18 May to 11 September In , Malta found itself at the heart of a raging battle between Allied and Axis powers for naval control of the Mediterranean. Eric Groves asks why the Allies invested so much effort in. Battle of Malta hosted at GGPoker from November 1 through November 22 Dublin, Ireland (October 29, ) – GGPoker and Casino Malta by Olympic Casino today reveal the full schedule for the Battle of Malta festival, which takes place on the global-facing poker network from November 1 through November.

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