Unlike the constant grinds and stalemates that typified the First World War, WWII was a considerably wider placed and dynamic conflict, truly taking in most parts of the globe. Much of this in the early years of the war came about because of the sheer size of the British Empire, spread across every theatre of the developing war and open to attack everywhere. Less well known than the big events like the Battle of Britain, Stalingrad, Pearl Harbor and Midway, some of these often forgotten battles were absolutely crucial to the eventual victory.
Case in point is the incredible bravery shown by those undertaking Operation Pedestal. Malta was vital to the war effort in the Mediterranean theatre, acting simultaneously like an unsinkable aircraft carrier and a naval base, but for two years the Axis Powers of Germany and Italy laid siege to the island. By mid-1942 the island was on its knees and a convoy of fifty ships, just 14 of them merchant vessels, the rest warships, set sail to relieve them, passing the Straits of Gibraltar on 9/10 AAugust.. Despite heavy losses from a concerted Axis attack, enough supplies got through to relieve the island. It’s considered one of the greatest strategic victories of the war, despite being a tactical defeat. Aircraft from Malta continued to harass Axis shipping until the Allied victory in North Africa put an end to most Axis activity and allowed other land based aircraft to deal with the Mediterranean in greater numbers. The video below is a great look at the operation.
Malta has always remembered the hardships of those times with pride, so it was clear they would remember the 75th anniversary of the convoy with a numismatic issue. Struck in a standard ounce of sterling silver, the coin depicts the tanker SS Ohio under steam with a RN destroyer in the background. An image of the George Cross, Britains highest civilian award that was awarded to the island for its courage, sits at the bottom of this face. It’s a nice piece by designer Noel Galea Bason, and there’s no confusing what is being celebrated here. The obverse carries the shield emblem of Malta.
The mintage is limited to 2,000 pieces and the coin was struck by the Royal Dutch Mint. A set that includes the coin and a silver foil replica of a stamp is also available and sells for €92.00 (the coin alone is €60.00), but just 500 sets are being produced. The silver foil stamp is also available seperately for €32.00. All three ways to buy come in a box and with a certificate of authenticity.