Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Air Vice Marshal Keith Park

(Photo): Air Vice Marshal Sir Keith Park, a New Zealander who was a principal Royal Air Force commander in the Battle of Britain and who later commanded the RAF in the Mediterranean, Italy and the Far East. Shown here preparing to fly his Spitfire in Malta. (IWM) - December 1942 Air Vice Marshal Sir Keith Park, A.O.C., Malta, described the year's defence of the island in a Christmas message sent as a special Order of the Day to the R.A.F. "I wish to thank all ranks of the R.A.F. In Malta for the grand job done in 1942," he stated. "In the spring; the Axis decided to neutralise Malta to prevent attacks on convoys running from Europe to North Africa. A superior enemy air force was concentrated in Sicily and carried out intensive and sustained bombing attacks, which practically overwhelmed us from March to May. "In spite of intensive bombing our ground staffs carried on and when the blitz ended, the R.A.F. recommenced attacks on Rommel's convoys. "In July the enemy decided it was again essential to neutralise Malta, but after two weeks' hard fighting our Spitfire squadrons obtained the mastery. "Having received a convoy in August, the RAF, began an all out offensive against enemy air forces in Sicily and his shipping, ships being sunk almost dally. "In October the enemy decided it was time to sink Malta once and for all. He concentrated a bigger air force than had ever been seen in Sicily; then attempted a second Intensive blitz. "Though greatly outnumbered our fighter squadrons gave the enemy a sound thrashing and completely broke attacks. "The RAF then operated with greater intensity, attacking enemy shipping day and night, bombing his ports, aerodromes and inflicting heavy casualties on enemy air transport services between Europe and Africa. "Malta, by its own offensive operations, seriously interrupted Rommel's sea communications with Libya, thus contributing greatly to the victory of the Eighth Army in Egypt. "In November Malta switched to offensive operations north and west, giving invaluable support to the Anglo-American expedition in Algeria. "Now that a number of convoys have reached Malta from the East the siege of the island that lasted nearly a year has been raised and the RAF carried out in December a far heavier offensive than ever previously attempted from Malta. "Owing to the intensive nature of the operations throughout the year few original pilots or air crews present last winter are still with us, but what are here wi11 carry on the good work."

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