Despite four years of high school Geography my knowledge of Malta is minimal. A second generation Maltese lad asked me out on a date to Wentworth Park Greyhounds way back in the 1970’s. That sums up my experience of Malta.
Did you know that the bravery of the Maltese people during World War 2 moved King George V1 to award the George Cross to Malta on a collective basis ” to bear witness to a heroism and devotion that will long be famous in history”?
I gained an insight into Malta’s history after reading No Greater Love by Justin Sheedy. This is the final novel in the author’s WW2 Historical Fiction trilogy. In last years Challenge I reviewed Nor The Years Condemn and have since read Ghosts Of The Empire. Although all three are stand alone novels sharing the theme of young Australians travelling to the other side of the world to fight for the Empire, the characters are interconnected.
Colin Stone is a loner, starting out living in orphanages and graduating with street smarts. He joins the RAAF on impulse to escape a crime he committed on the seedy streets of Melbourne. We follow Stone as he progresses through the Empire Air Training School, learns to fly in Canada, and then heads to Malta as a exceptionally talented Spitfire pilot.
Malta played an important role for the Allies; being a British colony, situated close to Sicily and the Axis shipping lanes, Malta was bombarded by the Italian and German air forces. Malta was used by the British to launch attacks on the Italian navy and had a submarine base. It was also used as a listening post, intercepting German radio messages.
Stone takes part in the Battle of Malta in which 60 German aircraft are gunned down with a loss of only one three Spitfires. We gain insight into the hardships the locals are experiencing via Stone’s friendship with a local lass and an Italian POW who Chefs.
Transferred to North Africa to fly Hurricanes for “the Tin-openers”, or tank busters,( Rommel’s Panzas), we join Stoney as an ace pilot, as a POW shot down by the Germans, plucked out of the water by a Sicilian fishing trawler after his plane was gunned down, and then to England to participate in D Day operations.
This is a fast paced book that covers a lot of ground, touching on Bletchley Park, the specialist hospital for Flyer burns victims at East Grinstead, as well as operations in the North African Desert. Daniel Quinn from Book 1 joins Stoney towards the end of this novel and it is a fitting conclusion to the trilogy.
You don’t have to be a fan of military novels to enjoy No Greater Love.This story covers all genres: a bit of history, a touch of travel guide, a smidgen of romance, some Boys Own adventure, a little crime, and a good dose of humour.
Loved it. And yes, now seriously considering a holiday to Malta. You have to admit that means that a book has had an affect on you, right?