Thursday, May 30, 2013

RAF St. Clement Danes Church

Commander K. at St. Clement Danes, London
Commander Kelly wrote earlier...

"There are a handful of things for which the entire world must remain forever grateful and indebted to the British people....the existence of William Shakespeare, the tradition of parliamentary democracy, the invention of afternoon tea and the performance of the RAF during the Battle of Britain."

St. Clement Danes, London
Another way to repay this last debt is, perhaps, with a visit to the RAF Church in London -- St. Clement Danes.  Here is their web   You will find the church in leafy part of London not far from the river Thames.  The nearest tube stop is Temple.
Interior of St. Clement Danes, London
St. Clement Danes has been the site of a Christian church since the ninth century.  Many Danish raiders decided to settle down and marry English wives in this part of London near the Thames.  St. Clement was the bishop of Rome in the First century who is reputed to have been martyred during a persecution of Christians under the Emperor Trajan; he was said to have been tied to an anchor and thrown into the sea.

Christopher Wren (see earlier post, St. Paul's Cathedral, 5/28/13) rebuilt the church from 1680-1682.

May 10, 1941
In 1941 the church received a direct hit from an incendiary bomb dropped by the Luftwaffe.  Only the outer shell of the church remained.

Organ at St. Clements, London
In 1958 the church was restored and consecrated to the RAF who had served with such valour in the Second World War.  Many brother Air Force services around the world assisted with the reconstruction.
Lord Dowding, London
In front of this church you will find a statue of Air Marshall Dowding (1882 - 1970) who prepared the RAF for the Battle of Britain.  Dowding was a classic British eccentric.  He was a vegetarian and a spiritualist who, like Patton, believed in reincarnation.  Sir Lawrence Olivier played him in the movie "Battle of Britain".

 The inscription on the statue above reads, "Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding was commander-in-chief of Fighter Command, Royal Air Force, from its formation in 1936 until November 1940. He was thus responsible for the preparation for and the conduct of the Battle of Britain. With remarkable foresight, he ensured the equipment of his command with monoplane fighters, the Hurricane and the Spitfire. He was among the first to appreciate the vital importance of R.D.F. (radar) and an effective command and control system for his squadrons. They were ready when war came. In the preliminary stages of that war, he thoroughly trained his minimal forces and conserved them against strong political pressure to disperse and misuse them. His wise and prudent judgement and leadership helped to ensure victory against overwhelming odds and thus prevented the loss of the Battle of Britain and probably the whole war. To him, the people of Britain and of the Free World owe largely the way of life and the liberties they enjoy today."

Commander K. and "Bomber" Harris
You will also find a statue of Arthur "Bomber" Harris (1892 - 1984) nearby.  Harris led RAF Bomber Command (see earlier post, RAF Bomber Command Memorial London, 10/13/12) during the Second World War.  He was often wildly optimistic that strategic bombing alone could win the war.  The Queen mother was booed by anti-war protesters at the unveiling of this statue in 1992.

RAF POW Commemorative plate and Eagle.
Inside the church you will find poignant RAF mementoes of the war.  The above display commemorates the escape of RAF POWs from the "Great Escape" on March 25, 1944.  Serving in the RAF in WWII meant not just the likelihood of an early death, but also the possibility of a lengthy and unpleasant incarceration.

There is an ancient nursery rhyme about "Oranges and Lemons" associated with the church.

"Oranges and lemons" say the Bells of St. Clement's
"You owe me five farthings" say the Bells of St. Martin's
"When will you pay me?" say the Bells of Old Bailey
"When I grow rich" say the Bells of Shoreditch
"When will that be?" say the Bells of Stepney
"I do not know" say the Great Bells of Bow
"Here comes a Candle to light you to Bed
Here comes a Chopper to Chop off your Head
Chip chop chip chop - the Last Man's Dead."

RAF Pilot
Under the coat of arms above the church's altar you will find an inscription that sums it up well..."Built by Christopher Wren 1682.  Destroyed by the thunderbolts of air warfare 1941.  Restored by the Royal Air Force 1958".

Commander Kelly says, "Pause to Remember the Few from the Battle of Britain, the Many who also served and those who serve in the RAF today with a visit to St. Clement Danes in London."

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

St. Paul's Cathedral

Reflections on St. Paul's 
St Paul's Cathedral is a mandatory stop on the American Conservative tour of London.  St. Paul's Cathedral ( is simply one of the greatest monuments in the world testifying to man's longing for proximity to the divine.  St. Paul's, located in the heart of the ancient City of London (the square mile), is one of the glories of England and a treasure of the world.

Commander K. and Lord Nelson, St. Paul's
The location of St.Paul's Cathedral has been a place of worship for Christians since the 4th century AD.  It continues in its mission as a vital place of mourning England's losses and celebrating her triumphs.  It is an unapologetically imperial church which holds the mortal remains of Lord Nelson (see earlier post, Horatio Nelson: Champion of Liberty, 1/15/12), the Duke of Wellington and General "Chinese" Gordon.

Thatcher Funeral, April 17 2013
Photo courtesy: Marc Leslie
Recently St. Paul's was the site of Margaret Thatcher's funeral (see earlier post, Margaret Thatcher RIP, 4/17/13).  You will find a plaque to all those who perished in the 1982 Falklands war.
Lord Nelson, St. Paul's, London
When Lord Nelson's funeral was held here in January 1806 the sailors who were charged with carrying his coffin tore the Union Jack flag into fragments keeping them as mementos.
Christopher Wren's monument
The present Cathedral was consecrated in 1708 and designed by the brilliant Christopher Wren.  It is built of Portland stone and was the first Anglican Cathedral.  Wren has this carved into the walls of St. Paul's...."Lector, Si Monumentum Requiria Circumspice" -- "Reader, If you need to see my Monument look around you."

While the Blitz was raging during World War II Winston Churchill and his war cabinet were often forced to go underground into the Cabinet War rooms (see earlier post, Churchill War rooms, 2/1/12).  When the "all clear" signal was flashed Winston would emerge from the depths and ask a simple question, "Is St. Paul's still standing?"  Churchill knew the iconic importance that St Paul's possessed for English-speaking people everywhere.  Churchill's funeral service was held here on January 30, 1965 (
The "Dirty Corner" of St. Paul's
When you visit St. Paul's you must also check out the "dirty corner".  St. Paul's received a thorough cleaning after its walls had been blackened by centuries of candle smoke.  They, however, left one small section uncleaned to show what a tremendous difference the cleaning made.  This is the "Dirty Corner" of St. Paul's.  The cleaning was largely paid for by members of the Fleming family, that is to say by relatives of Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond (  One can, therefore, say, with only slight exaggeration, that it was James Bond (see earlier post, Commander Bond's London, 2/23/12) who cleaned up St. Paul's and brought it to its current pitch of perfection.

Commander K. and Lawrence of Arabia
Another covert operative, Lawrence of Arabia (see earlier post, Lawrence of Arabia, 12/27/12) is commemorated here at St. Paul's.

"Modern Major Composer"
Arthur Sullivan of musical theatre fame is buried in St. Paul's Cathedral along with many other "modern major generals".

George Washington, St. Paul's
Distinguished Americans are also represented at St. Paul's.  George Washington (see earlier post, George London? 2/8/12) never visited England but you can find his bust at St. Paul's.
Roll of Honour, St. Paul's, London
At the east end of the Cathedral you will find an American Memorial Chapel that was paid for by subscription by the British people (  Here you will find the roll of honour -- a book containing the names of over 28,000 American servicemen who died in World War II and served in the UK.  St. Paul's offers a welcoming American Thanksgiving service every year.
American Eagle, St. Paul's, London
Commander Kelly says, "A visit to St. Paul's should be on everyone's bucket list!"

Special thanks to Mark Hansen.

This below is not actually from St. Paul's but seems, nevertheless, appropriate...

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Guards Museum, London

Guards Museum, London
Most Americans believe that "Foot Guards" are something that one might purchase from Dr Scholls!  In London, however, one can find a museum dedicated to the history of the five Foot Guards regiments ( that have served in British Army for over 300 years.  The museum is in the Wellington barracks across from St. James Park (near Buckingham Palace and the Churchill War Rooms) and is open seven days a week from 10am to 4pm.  Admission is 5 pounds for adults, free for children.  The nearest tube stop is Westminster.

Irish Guards, Guards Museum, London
You will learn all kinds of curious arcane history at the Guards Museum.  There are five different regiments of Guards including the Grenadier Guards, Coldstream Guards, Scots Guards, Irish Guards and Welsh Guards.  The Irish Guards' bearskin hats sport a blue rather than green cockade due to the fact that the Irish Fusiliers chose a green cockade first.  The oldest Guards regiment (Coldstream Guards founded in 1650) is NOT the most senior regiment (Grenadier Guards) due to its taking the side of Parliament during the English Civil war against the King -- loyalty matters.

Irish Guards (4 buttons)
Photography not allowed inside the Guards Museum!
The Duke of Wellington is reputed to have urged them forward at the Battle of Waterloo saying, "Up, Guards, and at them again!"  The Coldstream Guards and the Scots Guards also played a critical role in the defence of the Chateau of Hougoumont which formed Wellington's right flank at the battle.  The Guards regiments will play a significant role in the upcoming bicentennial celebration of the battle in 2015.
Commander K. and Armored Car, Guards Museum, London
The British Empire once spanned a quarter of the globe.  British forces through history, including the Guards regiments, have fought in nearly 90% of all the countries in the world (sees earlier post, All the Countries We've Ever Invaded, 3/3/13).  Recently Guards regiments have served with distinction in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Commander K. at Guards Museum, London
Today the Guards are responsible for guarding Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family.

Waterloo in miniature
Guards Toy Soldier Centre
You will find an enchanting Gift shop adjacent to the Guards Museum.

Commander K...a Guard?
Yes, it is real bearskin!
Commander Kelly says, "Boys (and girls) of all ages should go check out the Guards Museum in London".

Special Thanks to my photographic assistants M.K., C.J. and Joe Driano.

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Coming October 2015...
Italy Invades: How Italians Conquered the World

Friday, May 24, 2013

Star Trek versus Obama!

Gene Roddenberry, 1921 - 1991
His ashes were shot into space 1997
This memorial day weekend it is particularly apt to remember Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star  Trek, who flew 89 combat missions with the US Army Air corps in World War II.  After the war he became an LAPD cop.  Working in a company town he then started to write TV scripts for Gunsmoke and other TV series.  Star Trek was originally conceived as a "Western in outer space".  The crew of the Enterprise was a United Nations living in a post-nationalist universe that had overcome racism, sexism, etc.  The "Prime Directive" was a direct commentary and indictment of US involvement in the Vietnam war that was raging during Star Trek's brief three year run on NBC from 1966 to 1969.

Social commentary has, therefore, been part of the Star Trek phenomenon from its inception.

Star Trek, Into Darkness: Obama Critique?
In the 18th century French playwrights could criticise their kings as long as they set the plays' action somewhere in an ancient Greek setting.  The original Star Trek offered a Utopian vision of the future that questioned hawkish attitudes during the Vietnam war.  Today the Hollywood left can criticise President Obama as long as the story is set in a science fiction universe of the distant future.  Make no mistake about it, the latest release, Star Trek: Into Darkness boldly criticises the Obama administration where no Hollywood types have gone before!

The movie opens with horrific 9/11 style terrorist attacks in London (NB another senseless terrorist attack claiming the life of a 25 year old soldier in London this week) and San Francisco.  It quickly becomes apparent that the attacks have been carried out by a former Federation agent named John Harrison.  Kirk is ordered by his superior, Federation Admiral Alexander Marcus, (imperialist title fully intended) to track down the perpetrator and to kill him with a full complement of brand new high-tech torpedoes.  Admiral Marcus assures Kirk that the target planet is uninhabited except for the villainous Harrison, leaving no danger of collateral damage.  Federation intelligence assures us that the projected operation is a "slam dunk," so to speak.

It turns out that the CIA's, whoops I meant Federation's, intelligence sometimes proves to be faulty.  The planet is dangerously close to Klingon space and there is the danger that this act of counter terrorism might ignite a much wider war.  There are actually Klingons on the "uninhabited planet" who create the possibility of collateral damage, political repercussions and a wider war.  Without giving too much plot away, these new Federation torpedoes are not quite what they seem -- collateral damage guaranteed.  First officer Spock manages to use Vulcan logic to persuade Captain Kirk that it would be better to defy his Admiral's direct orders by capturing Harrison alive, interrogating him and bringing him to face justice on planet earth.

J.J. Abrams, the Producer of Star Trek: Into Darkness, did not have to search the galaxy for inspiration for his tale of faulty intelligence, collateral damage and imperial overreach; he merely had to consult the foreign policy record of the Obama administration.  J.J. Abrams has also demonstrated his strong sympathies for those risk their lives in the cause of freedom...
The Shadow War
Mark Mazzetti is a Pulitzer prize winning journalist for the New York Times who specialises in defence issues.  He published this year a book called The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army and a War at the Ends of the Earth (2013,  The title is the author's adaptation of a quote from John Brennan who now runs the CIA in the Obama administration.  Brennan suggested that the US should rely upon a "scalpel" rather than a "hammer".  Obama believed that "messy, costly wars that topple governments and require years of occupation" could be replaced by a new form of secret shadow warfare that exploits new technological developments -- "the way of the knife."   Mazzetti's book's thesis is that this new way of warfare has its own set of costs and liabilities.

How did we get to this point in the first place?  In Mark Mazzetti's  The Way of the Knife (2013, he writes, "The Intelligence Authorization act of 1991 mandated that all covert operations be authorised by written presidential filing, explaining the need for the secret activity, and that the White house notify the House sand Senate intelligence committees shortly after the finding is issued to the CIA.  And yet the 1991 act contained a significant loophole: it exempted the Pentagon from these burdensome requirements if the military was conducting secret operations it considered to be "traditional military activities."

The law offered little guidance as to what constituted "traditional military activities," partly because the George H.W. Bush White House and Pentagon successfully lobbied Congress to keep the language vague.  These activities were ultimately defined as any operations carried out by the military that were connected to "ongoing" or "anticipated" hostilities.  In other words, the Pentagon could justify sending troops to any country in the world if it could make the case that the United States was at war inside that country -- or might be at some point in the future.

These arcane provisions were little discussed for a decade, until the days after the September 11 attacks when Congress gave President Bush a sweeping mandate to wage war all over the globe.  According to the provisions of the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), the United States was not at war with any one particular country but at war in any country where al Qaeda was operating.  The measure, in effect, gave Rumsfeld the license he was looking for to carry out a global war."

Since then the United States has invaded Iraq and fought a global war on terror in countries around the world. Coalition troops pursue Al Qaeda across the border from Afghanistan into Tajikistan killing 20 militants in one 2010 incident (  The United States has now deployed into 20 African countries including drone bases in Niger and Yemen.

The new Predator drone technology initiated by President Bush and enhanced and perfected by President Obama has allowed the US to hit terrorists with Hellfire missiles in many countries where we are not even at war such as Yemen and Pakistan.  This new technology has allowed the US President in two different administrations to act as judge, jury and executioner.  There is no need for messy debates about the possible need for enhanced interrogation techniques (AKA torture) or about prisoner treatment and conditions on Guantanamo (referred to as "Strawberry Fields" because the prisoners remain "forever").  There is no due process or rule of law. Terrorist problems can now simply be vaporised with the equivalent of a photon torpedo.  OK, there is there risk of collateral damage.  Yes, there is the risk of faulty intelligence too (not merely the failure to discover WMD in Iraq under Bush but the CIA mistakenly targeted the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999 during the Serbian war under Clinton).  Moreover, there is the risk that in living by "the way of the knife" we ultimately incite thousands of others to wield knives or, as in the ghastly murder of Lee Rigby in London this past week, machetes against us.

Lee Rigby RIP, 1988 - 2013
Nevertheless, studies show that most Americans continue to approve of these kill lists.  President Obama even was willing to compromise details of this covert shadow campaign in order to burnish his reputation for decisive action prior to the recent election campaign (

According to a Stanford poll, the USA has become more "hawkish on counter terrorism matters.  A large majority -- 69 percent of respondents -- said they supported the American government secretly assassinating terrorists." (Source: The Way of the Knife, Mark Mazzetti, 2013,
Abdulrahman al Awlaki, 1996 - 2011
Killed by our Nobel Prize-winning POTUS
An American citizen who had terrorist and extremist links, Anwar al Awlaki, was killed with a CIA drone strike in Yemen in 2011.  One could argue that this action might be justifiable.  A few weeks later his sixteen year old son, Abdulrahman Al Awalaki, born in Colorado, was killed by a JSOC strike  in Yemen -- a victim of collateral damage due to his proximity to perceived "bad guys".  His son was in Yemen looking for his father and he was killed while sitting in an open air restaurant in Shabwa province.  The skinny teen was guilty of having gone looking for his father in Yemen.  Here is is his Facebook page...  (Source: The Way of the Knife, Mark Mazzetti, 2013,  See also

Change the poll question and the answers will, of course, vary.  Consider the following sample questions: "Do you approve of the American government killing terrorists?", "Do you approve of the American government killing American teenagers who have committed no crime?"  or "Do you approve of unarmed drones being used in the USA to enforce traffic regulations?"

While some Conservatives are ambivalent on the question of killing proven terrorist targets, is it not abundantly clear that anyone who believes in limited government must have grave concerns about the current American drone program?   Recent events demonstrate that even President Obama is clearly now having second thoughts on the entire program (

As Lord Acton (1834 - 1902) wrote, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."  How many wives would Henry VIII have had if he had had access to drone technology during the Tudor era (see earlier post Tower of London, 3/10/13)?

Commander Kelly concludes, "Do we not risk becoming as evil as the terrorists we confront if we forsake the rule of law and act without humanity, compassion or even...logic?  An American President cannot and should not "play God".  In order to confront the terror threat successfully, we must combine the heroic activism of Kirk with the cool dispassionate analysis of Spock.*  Otherwise, we all risk proceeding into a "darkness" that is indeed unimaginable."

*  Perhaps the London cops this week had the Kirk/Spock balance just about right.  Shoot the villains in the legs and bring them in for questioning!  One suspects that Gene Roddenberry, ex-LAPD cop, ex-bomber pilot might approve from his celestial orbit.  It looks like this approach is paying off as police in London continue to make arrests...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Cinque Terre

Commander K. Cinque Terre
The Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera is simply one of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world.    The Cinque Terre is made up of five towns -- Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglio, Manarola and Riomaggiore -- on the Ligurian coast.  The Cinque Terre is a designated Italian National Park ( and a Unesco World Heritage site.  I had the good fortune to hike part of this trail with my beautiful bride and a local guide last week.  We started in Levanto which is actually north of the official five towns that make up the Cinque Terre.

We only had time for a one day trip, but the many charming hotels and excellent restaurants made the idea of a longer overnight stay very compelling.

In 2011 a severe flash flood caused landslides in the area which claimed four lives  (,0,6964678.column).  Happily the area has bounced back and life has, more or less, returned to normal.   Some parts of the trail must still be navigated by boat or the nearby train.  We started in Levanto which is actually north of the official five towns that make up the Cinque Terre.

Welcome to paradise!,  Cinque Terre, Italy
You will see dramatic views of the Mediterranean ocean.  You will find charming and colourful Italian villages.  The scenery just can't be beat.

Atlas shrugged...?
Near Monterosso you will statues of giants built into the rock!

A memorial to the fallen sons of Monterosso
from WWI and WWII
Even in this peaceful and serene location you will find reminders of how war (guerra) has scarred the face of Italy.  You will find World War I and II memorials in most of the towns.

Ships of the Marina Militare, La Spezia
Just a few miles south of Riomaggiore you will find the city of La Spezia which continues to be the arsenal of the Italian Navy (Marina Militare).  During World War II, the Italian fleet left from La Spezia to defect from the Axis to the Allies.  The Royal Navy's Admiral Cunningham on September 3, 1943 signalled the Admiralty, "Be pleased to inform their Lordships that the Italian battle fleet now lies at anchor under the guns of the fortress of Malta" (See earlier post Malta in WW II, 5/19/13).

Travel notes: I highly recomnend our local guide Michele Colloca for your tour of the Cinque Terre.  He can be reached at

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Malta in World War II

Malta Chessboard

To understand Malta's role in the Second World War it helps to know a little about the game of chess.  Every good chess player knows about the "strategy of the center".  Power radiates outward from the middle.  Control the center of the chess board and you will almost surely win the game.

Malta in the center of the Med.
The island of Malta lies at the approximate center of the Mediterranean sea.  It lies about a thousand miles east from Gibraltar and a thousand miles west from Alexandria.  It is only 60 miles south of the much larger and more populous island of Sicily.  Malta was home to major Royal Navy and RAF bases throughout the war.

The Siege of Malta
On June 10, 1940  Mussolini, cynically observing the rapid fall of France to the German Blitzkrieg and hoping for a share of the spoils, joined the Axis cause and declared war on the Allies.  The next day Italian bombers began attacking Malta.  The first casualties were a Maltese mother and her two sons, aged four and five, who had been walking near the dockyards.   Source: Fortress Malta: An Island Under Siege 1940-1943, James Holland

"Faith", Gloucester Sea Gladiator
National War Museum, Valletta
Malta's air defence consisted of three out-dated Gloucester gladiator fighters that were dubbed Faith, Hope and Charity.  When the war began in the Mediterranean "Malta had just 34 heavy anti-aircraft guns to protect an entire island with its three airfield, a massive harbour complex and over 200 miles of coastline."  (Source: Fortress Malta: An Island Under Siege 1940 -1943, James Holland

Commander K. and Anti-Aricraft Gun
Malta at War Museum, Vittoriosa
Modern war requires massive logistical support.  Axis forces in North Africa, later led by Field marshal Rommel, were pushing on towards Alexandria in an effort to capture Egypt.  The Axis forces supply lines ran through the Mediterranean from Italian ports to ports in Libya such as Tripoli and Benghazi.  The island of Malta was perfectly positioned to interdict Axis supply lines by air and sea.

Royal Navy Submarine, Malta Maritime Museum
The Royal navy deployed submarines to Malta to attack Axis shipping.  Naval aviation also attacked Italian merchant shipping convoys.  In November of 1941, 77% of Rommel's supplies were sunk by submarines and naval aircraft operating out of Malta. Submarines "magic carpet service" was also critically important for bringing desperately needed supplies into Malta.  (Source: Fortress Malta: An Island Under Siege 1940 -1943, James Holland

Fort St. Angelo, Royal Navy base, Malta
Just as many Japanese-Americans were interned during World War II in the USA, many Maltese of Italian descent were deported and interned in British-controlled Africa for the duration of the war.

The island of Malta was the most bombed part of the world in the Second World War.  The beautiful 19th century opera house in Valletta was destroyed in the war and has yet to be rebuilt.

Plaque from George VI, Valletta, Malta
In April of 1942 King George VI awarded the entire island the George Cross, the highest civilian award for gallantry -- an unprecedented honor.  To this day, Malta is still known at the "George Cross" island.
RAF display, Malta at War Museum, Vittoriosa
While the siege of Malta was overwhelmingly a Commonwealth show, it is also true that America played a significant role in the defence of the island.

USS Wasp, Malta Maritime Museum
America provided vital assistance to the defence of Malta during the war.  Even prior to Pearl Harbor, Churchill communicated to FDR Malta's desperate need for additional fighter aircraft and the recently commissioned aircraft carrier, USS Wasp, was dispatched by FDR to Glasgow to assist the beleaguered island.  In April and, again in May, of 1942 the USS Wasp ferried Spitfires and their pilots, including Denis Barnham, the author of Malta Spitfire Pilot (, to Malta.  Winston Churchill himself rang up the captain of the USS Wasp* and said, "Many thanks to you all for your timely help.  Who said a Wasp couldn't sting twice?"

Maltese children raise the Stars and Stripes
at arrival of the USS Ohio
The USS Ohio was an American built (though English crewed) Liberty ship (see earlier post SS Jeremiah O'Brien, 8/13/12) that was part of the critical convoy called Operation Pedestal.  Hit by numerous bombs and torpedoes, she barely managed to reach Valletta harbour delivering her precious cargo of airplane fuel.  Other American ships resupplying Malta, such as the Santa Elisa, did keep their American crew.

Fort St. Angelo, Royal Navy base until 1979
After the siege of Malta lifted in 1943 there was a flood of American troops and officers into Malta.  In June of 1943 General Eisenhower, Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces North Africa and Mark Clark, planned Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily, from their headquarters in Lascaris.  Many British felt that the arrival of the better paid American troops drove up prices on the island.

FDR himself paid two visits to the plucky island once in December of 1943 and again for the Malta Conference with Churchill in February 1945.  On December 7, 1943, the second anniversary of Pearl Harbor, while in Malta, FDR declared as follows...

FDR plaque in Valetta, Malta

"In the name of the people of the United States of America, I salute the Island of Malta, its people and defenders, who, in the cause of freedom and justice and decency throughout the world, have rendered valorous service far above and beyond the call of duty.

Under repeated fire from the skies, Malta stood alone, but unafraid in the center of the sea, one tiny bright flame in the darkness—a beacon of hope for the clearer days which have come.

Malta's bright story of human fortitude and courage will be read by posterity with wonder and with gratitude through all the ages.

What was done in this Island maintains the highest traditions of gallant men and women who from the beginning of time have lived and died to preserve civilization for all mankind."

Commander Kelly concludes, "Malta was simply the Minas Tirith of World War II. It was home to an unsinkable aircraft carrier that the Axis could not subdue.

Traveler notes: If you visit Malta be sure to visit the National War Museum ( the Malta Maritime Museum  ( and the Malta at War Museum ( in Vittoriosa. 

* The USS Wasp was later sent to the Pacific theatre where she was sunk by a Japanese submarine at the battle of Guadalcanal.

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