Of all the Second World War convoys, the one sent to succour and refuel Malta in August 1942 - codenamed 'Pedestal' - is the one that has become synonymous in the public psyche with miraculous 'triumph over adversity'.
This convoy consisted of thirteen merchantmen, amongst them two American, plus the British-manned tanker Ohio and was considered so vital that it was given one of the most massive naval escorts of the War. Close support came from 4 cruisers and 12 destroyers but many other vessels, including three aircraft carriers, were placed on station nearby once the convoy had passed through the Straits of Gibraltar on 10th August. From dawn the next day, the convoy came under incessant attack from enemy submarines, aircraft and, later, coastal forces. That same day (11th), the aircraft carrier Eagle was sunk to become the first naval casualty and, over the next few days, two cruisers and a destroyer were also lost in action. The worst day was 13th August, when the cruiser Manchester and six of the merchantmen were sunk, and it is that scenario which the artist has captured in this work. After an epic struggle, only four merchantmen and the Ohio finally made it into the safety of Valetta on 15th August but the tanker's oil saved the island and, at least in part, justified the terrible losses which the Royal Navy sustained to get it there.