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Operation Pedestal - Book review


For this review I reverted back to my comfort zone, the Regia Marina. I was browsing a bookshop recently and came across Operation Pedestal, The fleet that battled to Malta 1942 by the very much respected author Max Hastings. There are numerous books dedicated to this important episode in the Battle of the Mediterranean and even more that make a passing mention.

I browsed the book in the shop and was pleasantly surprised to see four pages of bibliography of which some relate to Italian language information. Most of the photographs were obviously linked to the allied side but I was again surprised to see photographs of Italian servicemen for example Vincenzo Costantino who served aboard the heavy cruiser Bolzano. By now I was very interested and made the purchase.

I eagerly began to read the book thinking that this book may be a very balanced book for both sides. Alas I was wrong. The book concentrates unsurprisingly concentrates on the allied side and it was not until the 96th page that memories if an Italian submariner was written.

This style continues the majority of writing concentrating on the allied side with Axis side being mentioned every now and then. The actual account of the battle is written in a day to day basis and is very detailed with plenty of memories from the Allied side. A good detail is written about the devastating attack by the submarine Axum and actions of the Italian MAS boats. I cannot fault the balanced approach the author has taken in respect of describing the sequence of the battle

The book starts with the importance of Malta and then goes into great detail of the make up of the convoy. There follows the actual battle, the convoys arrival in Malta and ends up with a section that tells you want happened to some of the combatants including one from the Axis side. For example Capitano Giorgio Manutius who torpedoed the cruiser HMS Manchester died in a 1945 car crash in Rome. This together with Italian combatants memories was the extra information I was looking for. Unfortunately there was minimal in such a large book. The author mentions that he had the assistance of an Italian translator which makes it more disappointing that there was not more from the Italian side.

To sum up if you want to learn about Operation Pedestal then this is the book for you, a very detailed account. If you know about the battle and want to learn more from the Axis side then you may end up being disappointed.

Regards to all,