Kesselring launches an
intensified air offensive against Malta, which by the end of
March had racked up 4,927 sorties for the Luftwaffe, as opposed
to 2.497 during February.
Axis air forces begin
a bombing campaign against La Valetta, the British naval base
During its darkest hours, the Malta
is awarded the George Cross for "heroism and devotion" by
King George VI. This was in recognition of the way in which
the Maltese people had stood up to more than 2,000 bombing
raids and constant shortages over the past twelve month.
46 Spitfires arrive on Malta as reinforcement,
although such is the intensity of the axis air onslaught (9,599
sorties in April), that almost all these aircraft had been
destroyed on the ground within 3 days.
Hitler and Mussolini agree that the
capture of Malta (Operation Herakles) should take place on
the 10th July 1942.
Kesselring declares that
Malta has been neutralised. However, that same day the Axis
airforces found themselves outnumbered for the first time in
the sky over Malta, losing 12 aircraft in return for 3 RAF
Spitfires. This marked a definite turning point in the fortunes
of Malta with Axis air activity slackening noticeably as aircraft
were drawn off to Russia.
Hitler postpones the invasion of Malta
The German, Italian and
Croatian forces in Yugoslavia, begin another offensive against
Tito's partisan army.
Italian aircraft strength
is increased on Sicily by withdrawing aircraft from Libya.
This allows the Italians to step up their air attacks against
Axis bombers carry out
raids on the harbour facilities at Valetta in Malta.
German and Italian bomber
forces begin a major offensive against the British island of
Malta in the Mediterranean.