Fortress Malta by Nicolas Trudgian


In the summer of 1942, the desperate battle to keep Malta in Allied hands is at its height. The vital Port of Valetta
is the beleaguered target for yet another attack by Luftwaffe JU88 bombers. Leaping to its defence from their nearby airfield at Takali come Spitfire Mk VBs of No.249 Squadron, who, in pursuit of the Bombers, have become entangled with the enemy escort fighters. These include Me109s of JG53 and Italian Air Force Re2001s of 2nd Gruppo based in Sicily. Such gallant efforts by the RAF squadrons led them to overcome seemingly impossible odds to protect this vitally strategic island. They successfully repulsed the Axis attacks and made possible the winning of the war in the Mediterranean Theatre.


Metellini earned his wings on 17th September 1930, attaining the title of “Piloa di Aeroplano” (pilot of Airplane), Flying the FIAT CR20 he began learning the basics of becoming a military fighter pilot. After a few months his training period was completed, and he was appointed Military Pilot, and promoted to the rank of Sergeant on the 14th December 1930. The young Sergeant’s first assignment was the 76th “Squadriglia Caccia” based near Rome.
In 1939 Metellini was appointed Lieutenant and volunteered for the Spanish campaign, and was assigned to the X Gruppo, 102nd Squadron. After Mussolini declared war, his gruppo was sent to Taranto. Flying CR.32 they flew escort missions in defence for the Italian home fleet. In December 1940, he was sent to Africa flying the new Fiat G. ‘Freccia’.  Whilst there his unit performed ground strafing, escort missions, and bomber escort missions for BR20’s and JU87’s of Italian and German units. The missions were flown over Tobruk, Sollum and Sidi Barrani.
In August of 1941, the 2nd Gruppo was sent back to Italy, becoming the first group equipped with the newest Italian fighter, the Reggiane 2001”Falco II”. Familiarization and training with the Re.2001 took some time. By May 1942 his unit was considered combat ready and sent to the airbase at Santo Pietro di Caltagirone, Sicily.  The mission was no easy task; escort and protect the bombers attacking Malta.
The entire summer of 1942 went on with escorting missions and dogfighting against the British Spitfire’s based on the isle of Malta.  It was Metellini’s toughest period because the missions where frequent, sometimes two or three a day.  In comparison the Re.2001 was a good airplane, but the Spitfire was a very tough opponent, with superior engine power, heavy armament and British pilots who were very good.  Metellini also participated in the attack on two of the biggest British convoys sent to Malta, the “Harpoon” convoy in June 1942 and “Pedestal” convoy in August 1942.  During these battles, his 2nd Fighter Group escorted Savoia Marchetti S 79 torpedo bombers, led by the famous torpedo ace Buscaglia.During the combat period over Malta, the 2nd Group lost half of its pilots. Tired and exhausted the remaining pilots and airplanes where sent back to Italy at the end of September. At the end of the war, he came back to Italy where he joined the new Aeronautica Militare in September 1945, with the rank of Captain. During his distinguished military flying career, Brigadier General Giacomo Metellini completed roughly 2,500 flight hours and flew almost 50 different types of aircraft.

Giacomo Metellini passed away at the age of 99 on June 24th, 2012, one week before his 100th birthday.

Routley  joined the Royal Navy as a pilot in Sep ’39.  He was posted to 805 Squadron flying Martlets mainly protecting the convoys from Alexandria to Tobruck /Mersah Matruh and the Suez Canal, after extensive operations he was posted to the Naval Fighter School in Henstridge where he flew Seafires during 1943-44.

At the Central Gunnery School Sutton Bridge. He was the Commanding Officer of 885 Squadron of  Hellcats, HMS Ruler and HMS Indefatigable 1944-45.

He culminated as Commanding Officer of  804 Squadron Sea Fury  in 1953-54. He retired in 1970.


Reproduced with kind permission from the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust. © Not to be reproduced without written permission

Flight Lieutenant LEONARD DAVIES
Davies was born on November 17 1920 went to school in Stockton on Tees. He joined 608 Squadron, AAF about July 1939, as an Aircrafthand (808429). Called up on August 24, he remustered as an Airman u/t Pilot. With training completed, he went to 7 OTU, Hawarden on July 1 1940. After converting to Hurricanes, he joined 151 Squadron at Martlesham Heath on July 15.
He made a crash-landing at Eastchurch on August 28, following a combat over the Thames Estuary. He was wounded and did not fly with 151 again until November 6 1940.
On December 13 Davies was posted to the Middle East. He arrived at Malta in a Sunderland from the Middle East on January 30 1941 and joined 261 Squadron at Ta Kali. On February 4 he damaged a Ju 88 and on May 9 a Ju 87. He returned to the Middle East later in the month. Commissioned in December 1942, Davies was released from the RAF in 1946, as a Flight Lieutenant. He died on March 31 2014.
PO 2.12.42   FO 2.6.43   FL 2.12.44

Wing Commander TOM NEIL DFC* AFC AE
Neil was born in Bootle on July 14 1920. He joined the RAFVR on October 17 1938, as an Airman u/t Pilot and began his training at 17 E&RFTS, Barton, Manchester. Called up on September 2 1939, Neil went to 4 ITW, Bexhill in early November. On December 1 he was posted to 8 FTS, Montrose and on completion of the course, he was commissioned and joined 249 Squadron on May 15 1940 at its reformation at Church Fenton.
Flying from North Weald on September 7, Neil claimed a Bf 109 destroyed, on the 11th a He 111 destroyed, on the 15th two Bf 109s and a Do 17 destroyed, another Do 17 shared and a He 111 probably destroyed., on the 18th a He 111 damaged and on the 27th a Bf 110 and a Ju 88 destroyed, a Bf 110 probably destroyed and a Ju 88 shared.
On October 6 Neil shared a Do 17, on the 25th claimed a Bf 109 destroyed, on the 27th a Do 17 probably destroyed, on the 28th a Ju 88 shared and on November 7 a Ju 87 and two Bf 109s destroyed. On this day Neil collided with Wing Commander F V Beamish during a patrol and lost his tail. He baled out of Hurricane V 7676, unhurt.
Neil was awarded the DFC (8.10.40) and a Bar (26.11.40) and he was made ‘B’ Flight Commander on December 13 1940, as an Acting Flight Lieutenant.
In May 1941 249 went to Malta. The squadron flew off Ark Royal on the 21st, Neil leading the second group of Hurricanes. After a series of mishaps and misadventures, they all reached Malta safely. On June 12 1941 Neil destroyed a Mc 200.
He left Malta on December 26 1941 and returned to the UK, via the Middle East, South Africa, West Africa and Canada, finally arriving at Liverpool in early March 1942.
Neil was posted to 81 Group, as Tactics Officer. He went to 56 OTU in mid-June and on September 1 1942 he took command of 41 Squadron at Llanbedr. In July 1943 he was posted to 53 OTU, Kirton-in-Lindsey, as an instructor. He later went to the 9th US Air Force, as Flying Liaison Officer with the 100th Fighter Wing. After D Day Neil did some operational flying in France, as a supernumerary.
In January 1945 he was posted to the School of Land/Air Warfare at Old Sarum, instructing and lecturing. Neil went to Burma in March 1945, investigating. Whilst there, he flew some operational sorties with No 1 Indian Wing. Neil returned to Old Sarum in April, leaving there in January 1946, to go on an Empire Test Pilots’ course at Cranfield. Neil was awarded the Bronze Star (US) (2.8.49) and the AFC (2.1.56). He retired from the RAF in 1964 as a Wing Commander.
PO 12.5.40   FO 3.3.41   FL 3.3.42   FL 1.9.45   SL 1.1.51

Born in Waitara on November 25 1919. Lawrence was at Southland Boys’ High School from 1933 to 1936 and then went to work as a bank clerk in Invercargill. He enrolled in the Civil Reserve of Pilots in February 1938 and in June he successfully applied for a short service commission in the RAF and left for England in the RMS Tainui on February 1 1939.
He began his ab initio course at 10 E&RFTS, Yatesbury on March 16, as a pupil pilot. He went on to 5 FTS, Sealand on May 28 for No 40 Course, which ran from March 30 to November 5 1939.
With training completed, Lawrence joined the newly-reformed 234 Squadron at Leconfield on November 6. The squadron then had Blenheims but began to receive Spitfires in March 1940. On May 6 he was sent to the School of Air Navigation, St Athan for No 6 Short Navigation Instructors’ Course, which ran until June 28 1940. He qualified as an Air Navigator 2nd Class, in preparation to be Squadron Navigation Officer. He rejoined 234 on June 30. Lawrence shared in the destruction of a Ju 88 on July 8, the squadron’s first victory. On July 12 he damaged a Ju 88, on August 24 he damaged a Bf 110 and on September 7 he claimed a Bf 109 destroyed and damaged a Do 17. Two days later Lawrence was posted to 603 Squadron at Hornchurch and on the 15th, his first sortie with 603, he claimed a Bf 109 destroyed and two others damaged.
On October 8 1940 Lawrence was posted to 421 Flight, then forming at Hawkinge. On November 23 he damaged a Bf 110 and on a weather reconnaissance over Ramsgate on the 26th he was shot down by Bf 109s. The Spitfire disintegrated and Lawrence found himself falling. He got his parachute open, went into the sea and burst open a dye sachet, colouring the water. He was picked up by a minesweeper and taken to Ramsgate, where he was admitted to hospital, with his right arm dislocated and his right leg broken.
After convalescence at Torquay, Lawrence rejoined 421 Flight on December 4 1941, by then renumbered 91 Squadron. He was sent to 52 OTU, Aston Down for a refresher course on Spitfires. He rejoined 91 on January 10 1942 but was soon afterwards posted to HQ RAF Mediterranean at Valetta, Malta. From there he joined 185 Squadron at Hal Far on February 17. On March 23 he shared a He 111, on April 9 damaged a Ju 88, on the 24th he damaged a Bf 109, on May 9 he got a probable Ju 87 and damaged a Bf 109, on the 10th got another probable Ju 87 and on the 19th he damaged a Mc 202. Lawrence was promoted to Acting Squadron Leader on May 28 1942 and took command of 185, leading it until he returned to the UK in early August. He was posted to 52 OTU, Aston Down but moved to 57 OTU, Hawarden on September 4. He was awarded the DFC (12.9.42).
In early July 1943 Lawrence went to Duxford for liaison duties with the USAAF. On October 27 he was posted to CGS, Sutton Bridge, on the Pilot Gunnery Instructors’ Training Wing. In late May 1944 Lawrence went to 28 OTU, Wymeswold, where he flew Hurricanes by day and night against Wellingtons, training air gunners. He returned to operations on February 5 1945, when he joined 124 Squadron at Manston, flying Spitfire IXs.
On July 15 1945 Lawrence transferred to the RNZAF. He returned to New Zealand in late May 1946 and went on to the Reserve in September. He later returned to Britain and settled there and ran a successful dry-cleaning business.
APO 13.5.39   PO 6.11.39   FO 6.11.40   FL 6.11.41

Wing Commander PAUL  FARNES DFM
Farnes, who was born at Boscombe, Hampshire on July 16 1918, joined the RAFVR in April 1938, as an Airman u/t Pilot (741447) and did his flying training at 19 E&RFTS, Gatwick. In July 1939 he took the opportunity of spending six months with the regular RAF and went to the 11 Group Pool at St Athan, where he converted to Hurricanes.
On September 14 1939 Farnes joined 501 Squadron at Filton. The squadron flew to Béthienville in France on May 10 1940. Farnes destroyed a He 111 and shared another on the 12th and shared a Do 17 on the 14th and got a possible He 111 on the 27th. After being withdrawn on June 17, the squadron regrouped at Croydon and Middle Wallop and on July 26 moved to Gravesend. On August 12 Farnes claimed a Ju 87 destroyed, on the 15th two more, on the 18th a Do 17, on the 28th a Bf 109, and on the 30th he damaged a He 111. He damaged two Bf 109s on September 2, damaged a Bf 110 on the 3rd, damaged Do 17s on the 14th and 27th, destroyed a Ju 88 on the 30th and got probable Bf 109s on October 29 and November 8. He was awarded the DFM (22.10.40).
Commissioned in November 1940, Farnes was posted to 57 OTU, Hawarden on February 13 1941, as an instructor. He went out to 73 OTU, Aden on November 9 1941, from where he was posted on February 27 1942 to 229 Squadron at El Firdan, as a Flight Commander. The squadron went to Hal Far, Malta in late March 1942 and whilst there, on April 2 Farnes damaged a Ju 88, on the 4th and 8th damaged two unidentified enemy aircraft, on May 6 damaged a Ju 88 and on the 9th damaged a Bf 109. The squadron had been officially disbanded on April 29 1942 and Farnes and other pilots of 229 returned to Egypt on May 27. Farnes was posted to Air HQ Iraq, Habbaniya on July 3 1942 and apart from seven months spent in Baghdad in 1943 he remained there until January 19 1945, when he returned to the UK.
After a short refresher course at 53 OTU, Kirton-in-Lindsey, Farnes went to 124 Squadron at Hawkinge for a month. He spent two months at the CFE, Tangmere and then took command of 611 Squadron at Peterhead on July 7 1945. He was given command of 164 Squadron at Turnhouse on August 14 and led the squadron until August 31 1946, when it was disbanded and renumbered as 63 Squadron.
In the post-war years Farnes held a series of appointments prior to his retirement on June 27 1958 as a Squadron Leader, retaining the rank of Wing Commander.
PO 27.11.40    FO 27.11.41    FL 26.7.42    SL 1.5.44    SL 1.9.45

Born in Walthamstow, Essex on August 14 1921, Wellum joined the RAF on a short service commission and began his ab initio course on August 14 1939 at 7 E&RFTS, Desford. He went to No 1 RAF Depot, Uxbridge on October 23, for a short induction course. Wellum moved to 6 FTS, Little Rissington for No 16 Course, which ran from November 6 1939 to May 20 1940.With training completed, he joined 92 Squadron at Northolt on May 21 1940. He was detached to RAF Uxbridge on the 22nd for a short R/T procedure course. On September 11 1940 Wellum destroyed a He 111, on the 27th he shared in the destruction of a Ju 88, on November 2 he damaged two Bf 109s and on the 17th he shared in damaging a Bf 109.

Still with 92 Squadron, he damaged a Bf 109 on June 26 1941, probably destroyed another on July 8 and destroyed another on the 9th. He was awarded the DFC (5.8.41) and posted away to 52 OTU, Aston Down, as an instructor.
In February 1942 Wellum was posted to 65 Squadron at Debden, as a Flight Commander. He was posted to Malta in late July and embarked on the carrier HMS Furious at a Scottish port. On August 11 he led eight Spitfires off to Luqa, where he joined the recently-formed 1435 Flight, as a Flight Commander. He became ill and was repatriated to England by air.
After a long leave, Wellum became a test pilot at Gloster Aircraft, testing Typhoons. He later became a gunnery instructor, continuing this duty until the end of the war.
Wellum retired from the RAF on June 30 1961, as a Flight Lieutenant, retaining the rank of Squadron Leader. He joined a firm of commodity brokers in London.
He wrote his reminiscences in a book, First Light, published in 2002.
APO 23.10.39   PO 20.5.40   FO 20.5.41   FL 20.5.42   FL 1.9.45

Nicolas Trudgian

On the 23rd November 1941 two Italian S.79 torpedo bombers attacked a
convoy that was sailing from Alexandria to Tobruck.
Royal Navy, Fleet Air Arm, Martlets Mk.IIIs from No.805 Squadron rushed to the defence of the ships.
Lieutenant Jack Routley managed to damage one of the bombers before the Italians fled for home.

Protecting the Convoys is not sold seperately. It is only part of the George Cross edition and The George Cross Remarque editions


MAIN EDITION: LIMITED TO 150 WORLDWIDE, with three signatures
Flight Lieutenant LEN DAVIES

Signed by the three above and
Wing Commander PAUL FARNES DFM
Wing Commander TOM NEIL DFC* AFC AE

Comes with a companion print entitled ‘PROTECTING THE CONVOYS’ signed by: Commander JACK ROUTLEY



Limited to 150 worldwide with 3 signatures
£135 + p & p

Limited to 50 worldwide with 7 signatures
£195 + p & p

Limited to 300 worldwide
£50 + p & p

Overall print  size 73cm x 51cm,  Image size 61cm x 37cm


Main Edition, The George Cross Edition, Artist Signed Edition