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The Malta convoys were Allied supply convoys of the Second World War. The convoys took place during the Siege of Malta in the Mediterranean Theatre. Malta was a base from which British sea and air forces could attack ships carrying supplies from Europe to Italian Libya. Britain fought the Western Desert Campaign against Axis armies in North Africa to keep the Suez Canal and to control Middle Eastern oil. The strategic value of Malta was so great the British risked many merchant vessels and warships to supply the island and the Axis made determined efforts to neutralise the island as an offensive base.

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  • The Malta convoys were Allied supply convoys of the Second World War. The convoys took place during the Siege of Malta in the Mediterranean Theatre. Malta was a base from which British sea and air forces could attack ships carrying supplies from Europe to Italian Libya. Britain fought the Western Desert Campaign against Axis armies in North Africa to keep the Suez Canal and to control Middle Eastern oil. The strategic value of Malta was so great the British risked many merchant vessels and warships to supply the island and the Axis made determined efforts to neutralise the island as an offensive base.
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  • Malta convoys
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  • The Malta convoys were Allied supply convoys of the Second World War. The convoys took place during the Siege of Malta in the Mediterranean Theatre. Malta was a base from which British sea and air forces could attack ships carrying supplies from Europe to Italian Libya. Britain fought the Western Desert Campaign against Axis armies in North Africa to keep the Suez Canal and to control Middle Eastern oil. The strategic value of Malta was so great the British risked many merchant vessels and warships to supply the island and the Axis made determined efforts to neutralise the island as an offensive base. The civilian population and the garrison required imports of food, medical supplies, fuel and equipment; the military forces on the island needed reinforcements, ammunition and spare parts. British convoys were escorted to Malta by ships of the Mediterranean Fleet, Force H and aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm and Royal Air Force, during the Battle of the Mediterranean (1940–1943). British and Allied ships were attacked by the Italian Regia Aeronautica (Royal Air Force) and Regia Marina (Royal Navy) in 1940 and from 1941, by the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) and Kriegsmarine (German Navy). In 1942, the British assembled large flotillas of warships to escort Malta convoys, sent fast warships to make solo runs to the island and organised supply runs by submarine. Hawker Hurricane and then Supermarine Spitfire fighters were flown to Malta from aircraft carriers on Club Runs from Gibraltar towards Malta. In mid-1942, Axis air attacks on the island and on supply convoys neutralised Malta as an offensive base and an Axis invasion, Unternehmen Herkules (Operation Hercules), was set for mid-July 1942. The siege of Malta eased after the Allied victory at the Second Battle of El Alamein (23 October – 11 November 1942). The Axis retreat from Egypt and Cyrenaica brought more of the seas around Malta into range of Allied land-based aircraft. In Operation Stoneage, which began after Operation Torch (8–16 November), round the clock air cover was possible and all the merchant ships reached Malta. Mediterranean convoys were resumed to supply the advancing British forces, from which ships for Malta were detached and escorted to and from the island.
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