View Full Version : Plt Off Paul Brennan and Plt Off Ray Hesselyn: Spitfires Over Malta

15th October 2012, 17:21
I have recently republished with the consent of the Hesselyn family the above book, which was written in 1942 and published the following year, but which has been out of print since the war. The two Commonwealth pilots, one from Australia, and one from New Zealand wrote the book about their personal experiences on Malta during the islands siege by German and Italian forces.
To the 100 pages of the original book I have written details of Operation Spotter, which was the plan to transport sixteen pilots and their crated Spitfires to Gibraltar, where the aircraft were assembled under the cover of darkness, and then craned onto the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle. The first attempt to launch the Spitfires ended in failure when the long-range fuel tanks were found not to be transferring fuel, so a return to Gibraltar was necessary to await an expert flown out from Supermarine. It was said this expert had left in such a hurry he was still wearing his evening dinner suite under his flying overalls when he arrived. The repairs carried out, the Spitfires were sailed to within 600 miles of Malta for the launch. This would be the first time these pilots, and the Spitfire had ever been flown from a carrier, and the first time the fighter version had been based outside of the UK.
I have also written profiles of the 16 pilots involved, from first hand accounts, official and family records, including many previously unpublished photographs. Amongst the 16 were several who would become well known, pilots such as Sqn Ldr Stanley Grant, Flt Lt ‘Nip’ Heppell, Plt Off John Plagis and Flt Lt ‘Slim’ Yarra. Six of the sixteen were killed on Malta, and three others before the wars end, including one of the original authors Paul Brennan.
The 370-page book with 100 b/w illustrations is available from me direct at plovell.24@btinternet.com at £15.99 plus p+p or from any bookshop ISBN 9780955364655.
Paul Lovell