MALTA CONVOY [Main Title]

Catalogue number
  • UKY 425
Department
Film
Production date
1944
Place made
GB
Subject period
Dimensions
  • whole: Number Of Items/reels/tapes 2
Creator
Category
film

© IWM

License Film
Object description

A dramatic eye-witness account by Royal Navy Commander Anthony Kimmins of Operation 'Pedestal' (10 - 15 August 1942), the Royal Navy's bold and ambitious attempt to resupply the besieged island of Malta that narrowly succeeded in achieving its object despite heavy losses in ships and in lives.

Physical description

35mm

Full description

START 00:00:00 Title 'Malta Convoy' and brief production credits.

Full description

00:00:24 A view of the Grand Harbour and part of the Valletta fortifications in the foreground. Dive-bombing attacks by Axis Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive-bombers on one of the airfields on Malta and on the Grand Harbour. Bombs explode near an airfield. Scenes in the Egyptian desert after the Battle of Alam Halfa (30 August - 5 September 1942) showing a German Panzer III tank on fire, General Erwin Rommel studying a map with fellow Afrika Korps officers (filmed in early 1942 before his promotion to Field Marshal), an abandoned Panzer III armed with the short 5cm cannon on fire, a wrecked Sd Kfz 7 semi-track artillery tractor and an 8.8cm Flak 36 cannon, a German aerial recognition flag emblazoned with a swastika and five wooden Maltese cross grave markers in a temporary German military cemetery. A map of the Mediterranean and the lands surrounding it showing the location of the island of Malta.

Full description

00:01:37 Library footage of three Luftwaffe Heinkel He 111 bombers taking off from an airfield in eastern Poland at the beginning of Operation 'Barbarossa' in June 1941 to illustrate German airfields in Sicily and Libya. Fade out and fade up to a panning view right to left of the Pedestal convoy's third and fourth columns, with the freighter SS Wairangi in the outer column and the freighter SS Brisbane Star and the oil tanker SS Ohio nearest the camera. From the bridge of the Dido Class anti-aircraft cruiser HMS Charybdis, a view of two columns of merchant ships sailing in the convoy. A panning shot right to left across the convoy from its starboard side, the two merchantmen in the fourth column nearest the camera are (from right to left) SS Santa Eliza and SS Wairangi, in the third column are SS Empire Hope, SS Ohio, SS Brisbane Star and (on the extreme left of frame) SS Almeria Sykes; on the horizon (right to left) the battleship HMS Nelson (beyond SS Empire Hope and SS Ohio), the battleship HMS Rodney (between SS Ohio and SS Brisbane Star) and a Dido Class cruiser and the aircraft carrier HMS Furious on the left of the frame. A panning shot from left to right showing the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (busy flashing a signal from the bridge), SS Brisbane Star (nearest the camera), behind her SS Rochester Castle, two Dido Class cruisers HMS Sirius (in an Admiralty disruptive camouflage scheme) and HMS Phoebe on the horizon in the background and, on the right, SS Clan Ferguson, with the aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable in the background. Two aircraft carriers on opposite courses - HMS Furious in the foreground steaming left to right, HMS Indomitable in the background steaming right to left. Vice-Admiral Edward N Syfret, commander of Force H, inside HMS Nelson's admiral's bridge with a pair of binoculars. A view astern of HMS Nelson showing her sister ship HMS Rodney. Two destroyers - the nearest an F Class fleet destroyer and the furthest a Hunt Class escort destroyer - manoeuvring at high speed. A backlit shot of a Dido Class cruiser (HMS Sirius or HMS Phoebe) steaming at high speed astern of the Town Class light cruiser HMS Manchester. A shot of Rear Admiral Burrough with a beard at Gibraltar (some edge flicker on the film). 'Day-for-night' shots looking ahead from HMS Charybdis) to HMS Manchester and several other warships including an aircraft carrier (either HMS Victorious or HMS Indomitable). Looking astern as night falls from HMS Nelson (with her mainmast in the foreground) to a signal lamp flashing a message from HMS Rodney. A backlit 'day-for-night' shot of HMS Charybdis steaming at high speed with a signal lamp on her port bridge wing flashing a message. Destroyers - an F Class vessel (HMS Fury ?) in the foreground and a K or L Class destroyer - manoeuvre at high speed. The K Class destroyer HMS Kingston (?) (pennant number G64) at sea - this destroyer had already been written off as a total loss by the time of Operation 'Pedestal'. A sequence showing a depth charge attack being delivered on a submerged Axis submarine and big underwater explosions.

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00:03:26 Scenes on board the old aircraft carrier HMS Eagle (probably filmed before the start of Operation 'Pedestal' on 10 August 1942) showing Hawker Sea Hurricanes being made ready and taking off - at one point two other aircraft carriers (either HMS Victorious or HMS Indomitable and HMS Argus) can be seen astern. A view of two fleet aircraft carriers in line abreast - a Fairey Albacore torpedo-bomber flies off HMS Indomitable in the foreground and another aircraft flying off HMS Victorious on her port beam, with HMS Argus and other warships in the background. A view of the merchant ship SS Port Chalmers on the port beam of the camera ship (probably HMS Nelson) and, behind her in the next column, SS Deucalion. An Air Defence lookout on duty. Two navy signallers send messages with their signalling lamps on HMS Nelson (?). Men on the battleship man the octuple Mk VIII 2-pounder pom pom on the roof of B 16-inch gun turret. A gunner elevates his 20mm Oerlikon cannon skywards. Looking aft along the port side of HMS Charybdis showing her X and Y twin 4.5-inch gun turrets in action against aircraft, bombs bursting in the water beyond a freighter (SS Brisbane Star (?)) in the background. A long shot of a Junkers Ju 88 (?) bomber flying through heavy naval anti-aircraft gun fire. Two sticks of bombs burst in succession near SS Glenorchy (a freighter with a large funnel) and the American merchantman SS Santa Eliza and in the sea some distance away to starboard. Filmed from the bridge of HMS Nelson, the pom pom on the roof of B turret opens fire on a high-angle target moving along her starboard side. A long shot of an Axis aircraft trailing white smoke as it flies through puffs of smoke made by bursting anti-aircraft shells. A low-flying Axis bomber in the course of delivering an attack from the convoy's starboard side flies over an escorting destroyer shrouded entirely in smoke from her own guns and a merchant ship (either SS Brisbane Star or SS Melbourne Star). Oerlikon (?) tracer rounds are aimed at a distant Axis bomber. A distant view of several bombs bursting in quick succession around the stern of the aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable as she comes under a concentrated Luftwaffe dive-bombing attack and suffers at least one direct hit (filmed around 1pm 12 August 1942) whilst an escort destroyer fires its guns at Axis aircraft in the middle distance; shrapnel from anti-aircraft gun fire lashes the sea in the foreground and the sky is pock-marked with black smoke from exploding shells. A backlit view of two sticks of bombs bursting close in the water to a Hunt Class destroyer. The starboard twin 4-inch gun battery on HMS Manchester in action at a high angle. Tracer fire from a 20mm Oerlikon cannon is aimed at an Axis dive bomber (?) flying through bursting anti-aircraft shells in the distance.

Full description

00:05:34 A very dramatic shot (filmed in June 1942 during Operation 'Harpoon') showing a Regia Aeronautica Savoia-Marchetti SM79 'Sparviero' bomber trailing some smoke as it flies in from the starboard bow of the cameraman's ship and passes overhead, apparently impervious to the Oerlikon tracer fire coming from below; there is one torpedo still hung up on its belly rack. A quadruple Mk VII 2-pounder pom pom in action (on board HMS Manchester ?). A shot-down Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive-bomber dives straight into the sea and makes a big splash; another Axis aircraft can be seen in the background. Looking aft along the midships section of HMS Charybdis with her stern twin 4.5-inch guns in action. A single Axis aircraft flies above tracer fire and bursting anti-aircraft shells. A bomb bursts near the Colony Class cruiser HMS Nigeria on the starboard beam of the cameraman's ship. A view of the convoy on the port bow as a stick of bombs between the freighter SS Brisbane Star and the oil tanker SS Ohio, panning right to other ships in the convoy and fading to black. A sequence of gun flashes and beads of heavy tracer fire filling the night skies during another raid on the convoy by Axis aircraft. Fade up to a daylight shot of the battleship HMS Rodney to the freighter SS Waimarama and, ahead of her in the same column, SS Dorset; in the distance are an unidentified destroyer and the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious, with HMS Furious just beyond. Sea Hurricanes are flown off from HMS Eagle. Three Fairey Albacore biplanes fly over the convoy; in the background are the flat top aircraft carrier HMS Argus, the battleship HMS Rodney, the largely flat top aircraft carrier HMS Furious and a modern fleet carrier, either HMS Indomitable or HMS Victorious. A stick of bombs bursts in the sea near the cameraman's vessel (HMS Charybdis). Gunners manning the octuple pom pom on the roof of HMS Nelson's B turret replenish its empty ammunition trays with more 2-pounder rounds. A bomb bursts in the sea close to the camera. Explosions in the sea just beyond the freighter SS Port Chalmers on the port beam, another freighter visible in the background. A bomb bursts very close to HMS Charybdis, filmed from the cruiser's bridge.

Full description

00:07:26 A Junkers Ju 87 Stuka in a near vertical dive as it releases its bombs. Backlit by the bright sunshine, two bombs burst close by. Dramatic scenes filmed on HMS Charybdis showing a huge pall of smoke from burning oil on the surface of the sea astern of the warship following the blowing up of SS Waimarama (?) on 13 August; another freighter (probably SS Brisbane Star) is a short distance astern of the light cruiser. The officers on the bridge of HMS Charybdis are wearing steel helmets and anti-flash clothing. A view of HMS Nigeria ahead of the camera ship (probably HMS Nelson). Looking across the convoy on HMS Nelson's starboard beam as night falls; the tanker SS Ohio is in the centre in the middle distance, black puffs of bursting anti-aircraft shells and gun flashes as fleet carrier HMS Indomitable's 4.5-inch gun batteries open fire. Looking across the convoy on HMS Nelson's port quarter: SS Brisbane Star, on the left and tracer fire rising into the sky from one of the destroyer escorts in the background. A dramatic panning shot over the convoy astern of HMS Nelson (with her main mast in the foreground) as the darkening sky is filled with streams of bright tracer and black puffs of smoke from exploding anti-aircraft shells. Looking ahead at one of Force H's cruiser squadrons from the bridge of HMS Charybdis) with a day-for-night filter; the nearest warship is HMS Manchester.

Full description

00:08:05 An animated map of the Sicilian Narrows between Tunisia and Sicily laid over shots of HMS Manchester, the next ship in line ahead of the cameraman's own vessel, HMS Charybdis, and a view from HMS Nelson towards HMS Rodney, which is seen sending a message by signal lamp. These shots, lifted from an earlier sequence, are repeated

Full description

00:08:24 Views of the battleship HMS Nelson during an Axis air attack and a stick of bombs exploding beyond the light cruiser HMS Nigeria as her A and B turrets fire a barrage at oncoming enemy aircraft formations. Another shot of the 2-pounder quadruple MK VII pom pom seen earlier in action on board HMS Manchester (?). A mass of white puffs of smoke from bursting anti-aircraft rounds in the sky. The camera tracks an Italian Savoia Marchetti SM79 torpedo-bomber flying low over the waves as it delivers a low-level attack as tracer shot wings towards it from a Royal Navy warship and shrapnel lashes the sea (possibly filmed during an earlier Malta convoy action). HMS Manchester's starboard twin 4-inch gun battery in action at an extreme elevation against high-flying Axis aircraft. Tracer shot wings its way skywards towards a distant aircraft making a steep dive. An Axis torpedo-bomber makes an attack run in the face of fierce anti-aircraft gunfire; exploding naval anti-aircraft rounds pepper the air and shrapnel fragments strike the sea. HMS Manchester's port twin 4-inch gun battery in action at low level. A damaged Axis bomber trails white smoke as it flies through an intense naval anti-aircraft barrage.

Full description

00:08:59 Amateur film shot on board a light cruiser showing the aircraft carrier HMS Argus astern and an aircraft falling into the sea in the background (taken during an earlier Malta convoy action). Dramatic footage of bombs bursting near SS Dorset, the light cruiser HMS Nigeria (on HMS Nelson's starboard beam) and very close to HMS Charybdis. Shots showing HMS Nigeria on the port side of the camera ship opening fire on Axis aircraft with her 4-inch gun battery and, looking aft along the length of HMS Charybdis, her stern 4.5-inch guns in action. On the port beam of the cameraship (probably HMS Nelson), HMS Nigeria can be seen in the middle distance, with her starboard 4-inch gun battery and X and Y turrets in action. Black puffs of smoke from exploding anti-aircraft rounds pockmark the sky above an aircraft carrier (either HMS Indomitable or HMS Victorious). Shots probably filmed from HMS Nelson showing HMS Nigeria sailing through several near misses, apparently unscathed; looking astern from HMS Charybdis, bombs burst astern of SS Brisbane Star. Another freighter, probably SS Dorset, sails on past bombs bursting in the sea around her. A view looking astern along the starboard waist of HMS Charybdis's towards the Dido Class cruiser HMS Sirius directly ahead of her. A shot of a formation of six RAF Spitfires (?) in flight in the distance. Another shot of SS Brisbane Star astern of HMS Charybdis. A shot taken at the outset of Operation 'Pedestal' showing the Town Class cruiser HMS Manchester and other warships belonging to Force H steaming ahead of the camera ship HMS Charybdis.

Full description

00:09:49 The destroyer HMS Penn, passes Dockyard Creek and Senglea in the background as she steams through the Grand Harbour on 15 August 1942. A section of blitzed waterfront overlooking the harbour. SS Brisbane Star, showing signs of damage to her bow caused by an enemy torpedo, steams into Grand Harbour on 14 August 1942 past the Lower Barracca gardens and then past Fort St Angelo on the far side of the harbour. The freighter SS Port Chalmers surrounded by barges and other small craft as she begins to discharge her cargo. The bow plates on SS Brisbane Castle have been shredded by blast from a torpedo hit. A carelessly edited sequence showing the stricken American-registered tanker SS Ohio, sandwiched between a tug and the Hunt Class destroyer HMS Bramham on the far side, slowly moving through the Grand Harbour, scenes on board the badly damaged vessel filmed once she had docked, and the tanker inching her way into French Creek with the help of several tugs and HMS Bramham. The third shot in the sequence showing SS Ohio's arrival in the Grand Harbour shows her nearer the harbour entrance than the others.

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00:10:43 A sequence showing members of SS Ohio's British crew sightseeing in Mdina, relaxing on a beach in St Paul's Bay and visiting an army anti-aircraft gun battery where they familiarise themselves with the traversing and elevating mechanism on a 3.7-inch anti-aircraft gun. An exterior of Buckingham Palace in London where Captain Dudley Mason poses for the camera with members of his family and/or well wishers after his investiture by HM King George VI with the George Cross. One of the four 'Pedestal' convoy freighters that got through to Malta alongside the quayside in Valletta. Soldiers and sailors climb the gangway onto the ship. Sacks containing dried food are lifted out of a ship's hold and sacks of flour are carried off a barge on the backs of Maltese stevedores. Drums of oil are lifted off a cargo ship. Coal is poured down a chute into barge alongside a freighter. An RAF Bedford QL petrol bowser is unloaded from a freighter by one of its own deck cranes; mix through to a shot of an RAF pilot dashing to his Hawker Hurricane (squadron code Q + B) followed by his lead mechanic who helps him into the cockpit. The engines on the Hurricane and a Vickers Supermarine Spitfire V are started up. The Spitfire V (squadron code G + 2), seen here with a Vokes air filter, taxies onto the runway at Ta'Qali and, trailing a cloud of dust, takes off. Title 'The End'.

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END 00:12:31

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