On June 10, 1940, Italy declared war on Britain. On the following morning, Italian bombers attacked Malta (then a British colony). Lonely Planet Malta picks up our story:
The only aircraft available on the islands on June 11 were three Gloster Gladiator biplanes–quickly named Faith, Hope and Charity–whose pilots fought with such skill and tenacity that Italian pilots estimated the strength of the Maltese squadron to be in the region of 25 aircraft!
Did the Italians ever acquit themselves well during World War II? I only ever seem to hear about Italian defeats.
Anyway, the story of Malta during World War II is fascinating, and I’d love to read a book length account (the aforementioned Lonely Planet recommends Siege: Malta, 1940 – 1943) of that period.
If you think the London Blitz was bad news for the British, consider that in 1942 the island suffer ed154 days and nights of continuous bombing. That compares with 57 days at the height of the aerial attacks on London.
Though the island was constantly attacked for three years, they never surrendered, and provided a critical tactical advantage for the allies in the Mediterrenean.