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EXTRACTS FROM SIMON CUSENS' LETTERS RE

60th ANNIVERSARY OF "OPERATION PEDESTAL"

September 24th to October 2nd, 2002, in Malta:     PART ONE





To read Simon's letters written after the Reunion please go to Part Two.





CONTACT INFORMATION FOR SIMON CUSENS:

Tel: +356 21 344345 (office)
Fax: +356 21 343952 (office)
E-mail: scusens@technoline-mt.com





Sent: Friday, March 22, 2002 1:55 AM
Subject: Latest News on the Event of September 2002


Dear Veterans and friends

You are receiving this email either because we have been in touch before about Operation Pedestal or you are in some way related to or interested in the WWII period.

Some of you are actual veterans of Operation Pedestal of August 1942, the largest ever RN Convoy that saved Malta from a planned surrender two weeks later. ...

I have so far traced over 80 veterans from 15 of the 78 ships of whom about 30 wish to attend and as for the rest, I am either still trying to establish contact or they are still undecided or unable to attend.

... The Prime Minister of Malta (The Hon. Dr Eddie Fenech Adami LLD, MP) and the Ministry of Tourism (The Hon. Dr Michael Refalo LLD, MP) are Patrons of this Reunion which I assure you will be one never to forget. Amongst the highlights of the Event will be a re-enactment of "Ohio's" entry into harbour (with all veterans aboard) and an as yet unconfirmed flyover over the ship by a WWII Spitfire plane in Malta on Sept 28th and 29th for an unrelated Aviation event.

Each Convoy veteran will be presented with a special memento from the Government of Malta.

... Looking forward to meeting many of you later this year for an unforgettable experience and to give tribute to Malta's unsung Heroes,




Subject: Response to feature in the Sunday Times of Malta
Date: Monday, April 01, 2002 4:50 PM


Dear Veterans and friends

The phone did not stop ringing today. By the day's end, I discovered a veteran from HMS Wilton , the sister destroyer ship to HMS Ledbury which was on Force Z ( Force Z ships turned back to Gibraltar before Pantalleria). Jim Bates was holidaying here in Bugibba, Malta.... He got in touch, came over and I had him interviewed and filmed. He will be back in September.

A letter received today was from a previously unknown vet, Jed Ellis of Neston, Merseyside, formerly on the HMS Kenya and another from Jack Douch who sent me details of another veteran, Doug Bennett in Doncaster who I will contact for more details.

An ex-pat from the UK living in Malta gave me details of George Nye who was picked from the water by HMS Penn. I will call George tomorrow to see what ship he was originally on and also to tell him about the Event.

I have now got details of 103 veterans, about 5 of whom have 'crossed the Bar'. One search for Eddie Baines, DSO,former Liet-Cmdr. of the HMS Bramham ended today as I got news of his passing.

For those of you from HMS Eagle, Phil Boswell has recently passed too. For those of you from the S.S. Santa Elisa, Jack Follamsby passed on February 1st this year.

I am meeting the British High Commissioner next Wednesday in connection with the possibility of having a WWII Spitfire fly over the Ship's entry into Grand Harbour ( with all veterans on board). Fingers crossed!




Subject: Veterans Update
Date: Tuesday, April 02, 2002 2:49 PM


Dear Veterans and friends

I got news today of the recent passing of Martin Cannon, a Pedestal vet from an as yet unconfirmed ship. He was interested in attending the Reunion.

I also received a letter from Q. D. Richardson from the HMS Kenya, living in Colwyn Bay, North Wales, another Pedestal veteran interested in attending the Reunion.




Subject: where are they???
Date: Tuesday, April 02, 2002 3:50 PM


Dear Veterans and friends

The following I have name and ship details for but am yet unable to contact:

Bob White Brisbane Star
Jack 'The Kid' Morris Brisbane Star
Fred Jewitt HMS Ashanti
Leonard McDonald HMS Manchester
Lt. Cdr. Duff ????????????
Jim Perry Empire Hope ( was interviewed an article by John Sweeney of The Observer in 2001 )
John Jackson MV Waimarama
James Whadcoat Rochester Castle
Eddie Smith SS Ohio ( Gunner)
Cpt. Desmond Dickens ?????????????? ( recent amputee)
Bill Hendy SS Santa Elisa, then transferred to SS Ohio ( Bugler who played 'The Last Post' for the dead laid out on deck)
Alan Wilmot (Canadian) HMS Manchester
Sidney Guest HMS Manchester


Does anyone know for sure if they are alive or dead or how they may be contacted in any way?? I appreciate if you can help me with the above.

Please drop me a line if so.




Subject: Reunion update
Date: Thursday, April 04, 2002 3:47 PM


Dear Veterans and friends

A message to the veterans......

For those of you who don't yet know, the Islanders had ( and still have) great devotion to Santa Marija, to whom the maltese attribute the success of Operation Pedestal, (owing to the SS Ohio's arrival on her feast day, August 15th). Our Lady was revered day and night during those dark days and was the main source of refuge and consolation through mass prayer and group citings of the Rosary. Another incident ( before Pedestal) that strengthened the Islanders' belief in Santa Maria's Divine interrcession was a infamous incident when a Luftwaffe plane dropped a 1000lbs aerial bomb onto Mosta Dome ( a Church dedicated to Santa Maria), which miraculously failed to explode saving the several people inside from certain death.The bomb fell into the Aisle and nobody was injured by the falling masonry.Interestingly, one of our two Luftwaffe veterans attending the Event claims to have dropped that bomb himself.

I attach a scanned copy of an original Prayer printed on a sheet of paper from WWII that shows signs of creasing meaning it was carried inside clothing on more than one occasion, presumably to be used for solace , fortitude and divine protection from the thousands of air attacks that its unknown owner had to endure...

Do print it out , preserve it and bring it with you and may it serve a similar purpose to you in your hours of need. Do pray to her to take care of you during your stay with us. After all She already knows you for She has already saved you once before... [Please Click Here for Photo]

...May She bring you back again safely so that the Islanders can meet you again and demonstrate to you that their feelings for you have not waivered , that they still feel the same way and they shall convince you that they have not and will not let Time allow them to forget what you did for them during that particular August of '42.

Several of those who cheered you into Grand Harbour are still around to bear witness to their unsung Heroes..........and they cannot wait to meet those boys again!....




Subject: Pedestal Reunion update
Date: Friday, April 05, 2002 7:55 AM


Dear Veterans and friends

I have received confirmation today from Mr Joe Falzon, Director of Falzon Service Station that he has agreed to provide, without charge, a black 240 foot Oil Tanker to simulate the SS Ohio for the Re-enactment planned inside Grand Harbour.

Efforts are still underway to secure a flyover above the Ship by a real WWII aircraft . The 'support' of the ship by two Malta Navy Patrol Boats to simulate the HMS Bramham and HMS Penn on either side of the 'Ohio' as it enters Grand Harbour will be the focus of my efforts during next week.

Truly very welcome news indeed which will complete a developing picture of vessels and craft to recreate that immortalised scene inside Grand Harbour on that special morning in Valletta of August 1942......the feast of Santa Maria, patron saint of the War effort.

If you would like to see the picture I am trying to recreate, go to: www.usmm.org/malta.html and scroll down all the way to the last photograph.

There is also an account about Cpt. Francis A. Dales, a Santa Elisa and Ohio veteran in Pedestal who currently has 11 medical specialists working on his last Mission.........that to keep him well enough to travel from the US to Malta next September.




Subject: Special Visitors
Date: Sunday, April 07, 2002 3:09 PM


Dear Veterans and friends

We have two special visitors next September as I had previously announced. One of them, a Pedestal veteran with a difference, has sent me a photograph of himself in 1943, a year after Pedestal,aged 22. Have a look at the attachment gentlemen. I am pleased he has accepted to come as I consider it very special to have him and you over in Malta together. [Please click here].




Subject: Re: Special visitors
Date: Thursday, April 11, 2002 6:12 PM


Dear Veterans and friends

... The gentleman in the first attachment [see above photo] quoted excerpts to me from his Flight Log of his JU 88's involvement in attacking Pedestal whilst the second attachment highlights how some crew marked their successes in air attacks on ships in the mediterranean depicted by the ship silhouettes painted on the plane's tail. [Please click here].

The gentleman above mentioned and another Luftwaffe air crew member involved in an earlier air attack on Mosta Dome during April 42 will attend the Reunion.

I asked the above if he would say a few words to the People of Malta during his stay with us and I am very happy that he has agreed to my request. ... The rest of the dates will include organised Tours, filmed Interviews, Autograph sessions and official Receptions. A number of autographed items will subsequently be auctioned to raise funds for a proposed Military Vehicles Museum to immortalise that aspect of our WWII Heritage.

Every effort will be made to avoid inconveniences like long walks, standing for long periods, exposure to the elements as far as possible during your stay particularly because of the poor health conditions of some of the veterans. You are however advised to consult your Doctor closer to the dates about your ability to travel.

This Event will receive its first televised coverage during a Live programme next Saturday on Net TV between 17.00 and 18.00 hrs in a programme called "Bricolage' where I will be giving a run down of the main scope and objectives of this commemorative Event.

Finally, I regret to announce my being informed today of the death of Mr William J. Boardman, Association Secretary of HMS Kenya Association and resident in Liverpool, UK who 'crossed the Bar' two weeks ago.

May God give you strength and good health so the People of Malta can welcome back their heroes one more time.




From: Simon Cusens
Subject: Oldest Veteran attending
Received on: Wed Apr 17 2002 04:37 pm

Dear Veterans and Friends

Perhaps you may wish to send greetings for a Happy belated Birthday to Ret. Surgeon Commander Eric W. King-Turner formerly on the Aircraft Carrier HMS Indomitable during Pedestal and currently the President of the HMS Indomitable Association. He plans to attend our Reunion next September travelling alone from England. He was born on 17th April 1905 meaning he is 97 years old today! Would you please find the time to extend your belated birthday wishes to our eldest Veteran on his remarkable decision to attend and may he continue to enjoy the best of health and God's blessings.We very much look forward to having such a grand man amongst us and his fortitude is truly one to emulate, if one is lucky enough to be able to,of course. You may write to him at erick@bushinternet.com ...




Subject: Update about Event
Date: Thursday, April 18, 2002 9:01 AM


Dear Veterans and Friends

Today was a very good day indeed. I would like to show my appreciation to the Ministry of Tourism, particularly the Hon. Minister Dr Michael Refalo LLD, MP for formally taking my commemorative Event under the Government's wing and support.

You the Veterans will benefit from this development through subsidised expenses and more professional organisation during your stay...

It will be educational as well as nostalgic and hopefully serve as a collective lesson to the thousands who will line the waterfronts of Grand Harbour so as to witness the re-enactment and never to forget the contribution of that famed Convoy that not only saved the Island Garrison and population from a humiliating defeat by a whisker but as historians rightly attribute, spelt the beginning of the end of tyranny in Europe following Pedestal's role in defeating Rommel's African advance and the later invasion of Sicily codenamed 'Operation Husky' launched from Malta both within months of Pedestal's arrival.

I am deeply honoured and indebted by your letters and continued words of encouragement and cherish your acquaintance.




Subject: Veterans update
Date: Saturday, April 20, 2002 5:30 PM


Dear Veterans and Friends

The following is an update of confirmed Veteran attendance to the 60th Anniversary of Operation Pedestal Event as at 21st April 2002:

... That gives a total of 40 Pedestal confirmations so far.This is likely to grow by another 5-10 veterans by September. Relatives and friends total about another 60 persons at the moment. Though 3 original Ohio crew have been contacted, none have confirmed their attendance. We desperately need a confirmation from SS Ohio crew as the whole Event wouldn't be right without at least one of them. We are also anxious to find at least one crew member from Melbourne Star, Port Chalmers and Rochester Castle willing to travel.These would complete representation for each of the 5 Merchant Ships that made it out of the original 14 that set off.

5-7 other veterans have confirmed an intention to come if certain problems can be tackled at our end.We will definitely try! Another confirmed Luftwaffe veteran may have been involved in Pedestal but is particularly requested to attend because his plane dropped that infamous 1000 lbs bomb on Mosta Dome which failed to explode. This would complete representation of one Enemy veteran from both the 'miraculous' incidents attributed to Santa Maria in wartime: the Mosta Dome incident ( Santa Maria Church) and Pedestal ( most important ship , Ohio , entered on the Feast Day of Santa Maria, August 15th).


Subject: Book those plane seats
Date: Wednesday, April 24, 2002 4:33 PM


Dear Veterans and Friends,

... I am pleased to announce that today, we have had confirmations from veterans of the following ships: Phoebe and Nigeria, bringing up the total number of ships now represented at the Event to 19.

We are still hoping that out of the 3 original SS Ohio crew tracked down in England and Australia, at least one will confirm his attendance.




Subject: veterans update as at 22/5/02
Date: Thursday, May 23, 2002 1:48 AM


Dear Veterans and friends

As I await your Questionairre receipts, I am happy to confirm the latest veteran participation figures taken from received Questionairres only for next September's Event as at 22nd May 2002:

... This gives a total attendance so far of 50 veterans representing 20 of the 78 ships that took part. If we have at least 1 veteran from every ship we found veterans from, we would have had 43 ships represented...............still no confirmations from SS Ohio. What a pity!........(but we have 2 hopefuls, fingers crossed!)

I have found 147 Operation Pedestal veterans so far, from the original 23,000 men that sailed, (less, of course, the 500+ who lie in their watery graves)




Subject: veterans update as at 13/06/02
Date: Thursday, June 13, 2002 1:51 AM


Dear Veterans and friends

[We now have] a total of 79 Operation Pedestal veterans confirmed as coming out of a total of 167 discovered. The attendees hail from 29 of the 78 ships that took part on that Malta Convoy.

We are thrilled to see we finally have 2 confirmations from the SS Ohio, the Tanker that saved Malta from capitulation to the Axis.



Subject: update on Event
Date: Friday, June 21, 2002 11:27 AM


Dear Veterans and friends

We are very busy preparing a trip that you will never forget!

Malta will always bring back special memories.........be it in war or be it in peace.

Thought I'd let you know about an interesting book available for sale from my good Baptist friend, Mike Critchley. Being a Roman Catholic myself, Mike and I differ on whether Santa Marija interceeded to the success of Operation Pedestal, as it popularly believed over here......................but I tell you something Mike.................we can surely agree that this episode, now part of our maltese folklore, surely gave you something to sell about! Ha Ha Ha!

Seriously, if any of you are interested, you can check out a new 60th Anniversary limited edition of "Pedestal, The Convoy that saved Malta", by Peter Smith, available from www.navybooks.com

Mike tells me it costs STG 7.99 inc. postage within UK and an additional 0.80p for overseas post.

Good luck Mike and to all of you, happy reading about a military operation that turned the tide of WWII after 12 previous months of unsuccessful attacks on Nazi occupied Europe.



Subject: New article today in The Times of Malta Date: Monday, July 15, 2002 10:49 AM

Dear Veterans and friends

Today's edition of Malta's best daily Newspaper dedicated one and a half more pages to our Event. I hope you do enjoy reading it.

[To read a reprint of this article "Sta Marija Convoy - Surviving crewmen for Malta Reunion", please go to http://www.usmm.org/maltatimes.html]




Subject: Pedestal narratives and memorabilia
Date: Tuesday, July 23, 2002 11:09 AM


Dear Veterans and Friends

As you may very well remember, there is an underlying objective, besides your Reunion, to help the Military Vehicles Collectors Club raise funds for a Vehicles and WWII Heritage Museum. This would ensure that the several WWII vehicles we have retrieved and saved from the scrap heaps will enjoy future posterity and immortalise their important role in supporting Malta's War Effort.

For this Museum objective,we have commissioned an original Pedestal painting by the renowned Maltese Naval artist, Edwin Galea, of which 600 prints will be auctioned or sold to help raise funds for the Museum. This painting and printing of prints will be completed during August 2002.

Several of the already restored military vehicles will be active during your stay and will participate in the Grand Harbour Diorama Spectacular on Friday 27th September , definitely jogging minds and adding more to the accuracy of the recreated scenes embedded only in your memories.

Your own contribution to the awareness of this Project will be by doing us the honour of being present in person for this important Commemoration . This would truly be a remarkable moment that we are soon about to realise. For those of you who have already confirmed that you wish to donate Pedestal artifacts to me for my Private Museum initiative (or other WWII memorabilia for that matter), we intend to have these presentations made during the Farewell Dinner on Tuesday,1st October . When the Museum sees the light of day, these artifacts will be loaned for permanent display at a venue that will seek to ensure that you and your achievements will continue to bear witness and inspire all those who believe that it is worth risking lives to safeguard the right to live free from tyranny and oppression. Never has this been so relevant today, as it was in 1942.

For this reason, I am requesting all those who can, to record themselves and their August 1942 ordeal on audio tape, which recordings would eventually be converted digitally to be played back, by push button, by Museum patrons of the future. Separate tapes about other Malta Convoys are welcome too but on separate tapes.

It is only after you ' cross the bar' that one realises what wealth of personal accounts and experiences have been lost for ever with you. Your personal accounts happen to be an extremely important cog in the 'machine' that links up Malta' s victorious achievements and WWII heritage at what were the most critical and weakest moments of this Island's truly incredible and chequered history.

We have lost too many of you already. Now that we have found you, I want to make sure that this trip would not only address the heat of the moment ( pun not intended!) but also encase your legacy in 'concrete' for posterity.

These accounts would ideally be made in the comfort of your own homes on BASF type of Chrome audio cassettes of 60 or 90 minutes duration and would cover the following topics:

  1. short introduction, name, surname, navy rating no., ship name and job on board
  2. description of feeling on getting to know about Mission of Operation Pedestal
  3. description of life on board, camaraderie relationships, squabbles, other incidents, food rations, general feel of living on board a ship
  4. as vivid as possible descriptions of the actions that were to follow
  5. fact for fact accounts and incidents as the drama unfolded
  6. personal losses, loss of comrades, descriptions of the horror scenes
  7. description about your Captain and his good and bad points citing examples
  8. particular attention to describing the details of the attacks and casualties giving names where these are remembered
  9. for those of you who entered Valletta harbour between the 13th and 15th August, your most elaborate descriptions of your feelings and experiences and what you saw and what was happening around you.
  10. description of aftermath of arrival, first impressions
  11. hardships in Malta, the Islanders, your encounters with them
  12. your biggest impressions, sad ones and lighter, if you have any
  13. life in Valletta........and the Gut ( alas, some things you don't forget)
  14. names of the bars visited, incidents, brawls, rivalry between RN and MN seamen, encounters with lovely Maltese ladies ( first names only please!) and life in the city
  15. any final conclusions and message from your ordeals that you wish to pass on to the listeners over the years to come

NOTE: It would be wise to try recording a piece and listening to it before you go ahead and record it all, to ensure your recording is of the best quality possible. Some of you may wish to get in touch with others who may have the equipment and you don't. All you have to do is click on the 'Reply All' button of this email, say your name and location and see if anyone in your area will offer to host you at his place for your recording. The tapes should carry your own full names and Ship names on the cover of the tape.

You will be doing Malta a huge favour in permanently recovering your accounts to immortalise your incredible exploits long after you are gone. Malta will continue to be eternally grateful and will continue to bear witness to same.




Subject: New Pedestal website worth a visit
Date: Thursday, July 25, 2002 9:41 AM


Dear Veterans and Friends

Please take the time to visit the best Operation Pedestal website out there today.

It was produced by Voice of the Mediterranean Radio Station in Malta and I thank them for informing me about it today. It does contain some small inaccuracies about the factual side of the Convoy's history but it is an excellent tribute to all veterans and that incredible achievement.

I encourage you to visit it at

www.vomradio.com




Subject: Veterans update as at 28/7/02 and a special request
Date: Sunday, July 28, 2002 4:26 PM


Dear Veterans and Friends

I am emailing the latest attendance figures taken from received Questionairres ONLY... This makes a total of 100 Operation Pedestal veterans confirmed as coming ( an increase of 21 over last month) out of a total of 189 discovered. The attendees hail from 33 of the 78 ships that took part on that Malta Convoy. Age ranges between 78 and 97. The remains of another veteran will also be brought over for scattering at sea, but he is not included in the above count.

There are another 10 persons thinking about making the trip, one from the destroyer, HMS Lookout.

PS Would you all kindly write in to Merchant Seaman, Capt. Francis A Dales, known as 'Lonnie' by all his friends, a Santa Elisa veteran who is losing his fight over ill health to make it to the Event, this after spending a fortune trying to get better, just to come to Malta for the Reunion.

Wish him support in his pain and in his suffering and your special Prayers........Tell him your names and which ship you represent and wish him well. He may be reached via his children on cdales@neelydales.com or ddlovett@burke.k12.ga.us

He has a truly remarkable story and you can view an account of his harrowing contribution in Operation Pedestal at this link: http://www.usmm.net/dales.html

...I cannot tell you how much Lonnie wanted to be there with you next September. Please make his day, those who can, by ... saluting this unassuming but 'braver than brave' person that I regret I may not have the honour to meet.

We have had a few other cancellations due to ill health. May I take the opportunity to tell all these men that our thoughts and our Prayers are with them and may they either recover or find solace and satisfaction in the love, care and attention by the ones they will leave behind........to these I say don't forget making a tape if you can, so we will continue to play your stories to all those in these times who take Liberty and Freedom for granted.




Subject: Discovery of special RAF veteran
Date: Friday, August 09, 2002 11:58 AM


Dear Veterans and Friends

We would like to share you a very special development of today..

For those of you who know the details of the Pedestal operation, you would know that the RAF was instrumental in the success of the Operation. This was in view of the fact that on the night of the 12th August '42, the RAF fooled a flotilla of heavily armed Italian Cruisers on their way to destroy the remnants of the convoy struggling to reach Malta.

At 01.35hrs on 13th August '42, an SDF ( Special Duty Flight) by the Wellington bombers of 69 Sqdn. were sent to report the movements of the fast approaching italian Cruisers. Whilst Wellington 'O' circled the Cruisers in the night, another Wellington 'Y' with Dennis Cooke as Wireless Operator on board approached.

Cooke intercepted a message from RAF Malta being relayed to Wellington 'O'. Strangely, Mr Cooke noted the message was in plain english language rather than in code which he considered very very strange indeed. The relayed message was ' Report latest position for Liberators'. (Liberators were large bomber aircraft.)

What Cooke did not know was that this was a fake message relayed by the RAF Malta knowing that it would be immediately intercepted by Italian Intelligence to dupe the Cruisers into thinking that a heavy bomber squadron was on its way to bomb and destroy the Italian Cruisers.But there were NO bombers! Relaying it in english rather than in code ascertained that the Italians would quickly understand the message. The plan worked...... Cooke's plane meanwhile caught up with the Cruisers and Cooke was very surprised to see the Cruisers breaking formation and making a dash for home.

It transpired that Mussolini had been given the intercepted 'news' of the imaginary RAF bomber squadron on its way and sought Luftwaffe Chief Command Gen. Kesselring's cover protection from the Luftwaffe. Kesselring was not fond of Mussolini's Navy calling them 'fair weather sailors' and obviously disappointed that the Italians weren't able to finish the job themselves, refused Mussolini his request for fighter cover because of escalating losses on the Russian Front. Mussolini then personally ordered the Cruisers to return, fearful of a humiliating defeat thus ensuring the success of Operation Pedestal. Dennis Cooke suspected that this message had some specific objective and tore out the page from his log, now in the Imperial War Museum, risking a court marshall, as he felt there would be something historic about it.

Dennis Cooke and I had a very enjoyable conversation this afternoon and we have the pleasure to inform you that he has decided to attend the Reunion, making him the first RAF Pedestal veteran in the Group!




Subject: Today is Santa Marija Day....some reflections
Date: Thursday, August 15, 2002 5:17 AM


Dear Veterans and Friends,

This morning was a beautiful, hot summer's day with typical August brilliant sunshine.....

At 09.30hrs, this morning,( the same time SS Ohio approached its mooring sixty years ago),a special Mass was held at Ta Liesse Church down in Grand Harbour, Valletta, whose steps overlook that magnificent view of the mouth of the Harbour.

The newly installed Port Chaplain served mass to a packed but comfortable audience whilst 3 Standard Bearers stood to attention on the right side of the alter throughout the service. One Standard read " The Royal British Legion- Malta Branch", the other, "The Royal Navy Association- Malta Branch". The third was our Maltese flag that proudly bears the George Cross in its upper left quadrant on the white part of our white and red flag, awarded to Malta by George VI on 14th April 1942.

I noticed several persons dedicated to the on going preservation of the Siege of Malta activities between 1940-43 present in the front pews, who, despite their age stood firm and proud whilst the Chaplain reminded all present that today was the 60th anniversary of the Convoy's entry into Grand Harbour. He remarked that though that epic was worth remembering, one must also not forget all those who gave their life for this Island to stand up to the threat of tyranny and agression.

After the service, we followed the Standard Bearers through the tunnel just before the old Customs House, a distance of about 100 meters from the Church, where a group of several other persons in their Sunday best, were waiting at the water's edge.

Amongst them were the Chairmen and represenatives of the Royal Malta Artillery Association, Malta Merchant Navy Association, Merchant Navy Association (Malta Branch), Royal Navy Association ( Malta Branch), Royal Naval Officers Association, Royal British Legion (Malta Branch) and surely others I was unable to reach as another Service was about to commence. Rev. Alan Woods, Chancellor of St Paul's Anglican Cathedral together with our Port Chaplain, conducted a carefully planned rendition of prayer and hymns, ably assisted by a children's choir accompanied by a guitarist. The three Standard Bearers stood behind, facing the Harbour, bravely withering the by now scorching heat.

Between the priests and the audience, stood a poppy wreath whilst an Armed Forces of Malta Patrol Boat made a silent approach to the quay. An Armed Forces of Malta Bugler played 'The Last Post', the Standards were loweered, whilst three of our local TV Stations had their cameras rolling. A small party led by the valiant stalwarth and indefatiguable Lino Camilleri of the British Legion proceeded to the Patrol Boat with the Wreath. The RMA has their own wreath, as in the words of their Chairman, he said they felt they should show support, as they so ably did in wartime, for what was essentially a Naval commemoration.

The Patrol Boat left the quay and at a distance of about 20 metres from the shore, the Wreath was blessed by the clergy and cast into the water...

....at we collected our thoughts during a minutes' silence, a cachaphony of ship horns ensued across all corners of Grand Harbour... Two american Cruise Liners just visiting , joined in solidarity and to salute those brave seamen whose memories continue to live in the shape of their fellow mates still with us and about to join us again so soon.......but their loss of life was not in vain you know! For our Island glorifies them for keeping the honour and dignity of this Nation intact during the darkest moments of Europe's checkered history over the ages.

Together with all the surviving Malta war veterans and in your valued company, we will cherish their memories of all the fallen of WWII again next month to remind the world of our gratitiude towards them and to show them that if it wasn't for them and their contribution, the people of this Island would have little reason to stand proud on their little rock that, surrounded by Nazi conquered territory, proved to be the 'thorn in Rommel's side' and the undoing of the course of WWII in favour of the Allies.

As the wreath floated on the shimmering water, we recited..

"Eternal rest grant unto them Oh Lord and let perpetual Light shine upon them. May they rest in Peace. Amen."

Thank You PEDESTAL

[To view pics of the ceremony which were sent to Simon from Captain Mark Chappelle of the Malta Merchant Navy Association Please Click Here for #1, Click Here for #2, Click Here for #3, and Click Here for #4.]




Subject: latest report from 'The Times of Malta' and general update
Date: Friday, September 06, 2002 5:54 PM


Dear Veterans and Friends

Well, well, well...........the 60th Anniversary Commemoration Event has certainly attracted some interest!......In the issue of the Times of Malta dated Thursday, 5th September, the paper confirms that HMS Ark Royal ( Aircraft Carrier) and HMS Southampton (Destroyer) will grace Grand Harbour with their presence, courtesy of the Royal Navy and specifically for the Operation Pedestal Commemoration.

Both ship's namesakes of the 1940's graced Malta's Grand Harbour several times during and after the War years so their presence will have greater significance for the Maltese.

I know that our outgoing British High Commissioner, H.E. Howard Pearce CVO was instrumental in organising the visit of Her Majesty's Warships. His Excellency has now taken up a new diplomatic post as Governor of the Falkland Islands and I express my profound gratitude for our past discussions on this Commemoration and salute him from here....



There is one other very special 'participant' for the Grand Harbour Spectacle............but I am not yet allowed to tell.... This would be another sight Malta hasn't seen since the 1940's, like Ohio's entry into harbour...........and you will be here with us to witness it .

... The Main Organising Committee and all the coordinators of the individual Events have worked tirelessly over the last weeks and look forward to hosting you in Malta later this month.






Subject: Latest and final Veterans List
Date: Sunday, September 15, 2002 5:28 PM


Dear Veterans and Friends

I am emailing the latest attendance figures :

Almeira Lykes 1 veteran (2 found)
Brisbane Star 3 ( 4 found)
Clan Ferguson 0 ( 1 found)
Deucalion 2 ( 4 found)
Dorset 2 ( 3 found)
Empire Hope 3 ( 4 found)
Glenorchy 0 ( 1 found)
Melbourne Star 2 ( 2 found)
Ohio 2 ( 3 found)
Port Chalmers 0 ( 3 found)
Rochester Castle 0 ( 4 found)
Santa Elisa 1 ( 6 found)
Waimarama 0 ( 2 found)
HMML 126 0 ( 2 found)
HMS Antelope 0 ( 1 found)
HMS Argus 1 ( 1 found)
HMS Ashanti 0 ( 3 found)
HMS Bramham 2 ( 6 found)
HMS Beaufort 1 ( 1 found)
HMS Cairo 2 ( 7 found)
HMS Charybdis 6 ( 16 found)
HMS Derwent 1 (3 found)
HMS Eagle 7 ( 14 found)
HMS Eskimo 1 (1 found)
HMS Foresight 1 ( 2 found)
HMS Furious 3 ( 5 found)
HMS Icarus 1 ( 3 found)
HMS Indomitable 7 ( 11 found)
HMS Intrepid 1 ( 1 found)
HMS Ithuriel 1 ( 1 found)
HMS Kenya 7 ( 10 found)
HMS Ledbury 7 ( 11 found)
HMS Lookout 1 (1 found)
HMS Malcolm 0 ( 1 found)
HMS Manchester 16 ( 26 found)
HMS Nelson 3 ( 5 found)
HMS Nigeria 2 ( 2 found)
HMS Pathfinder 1 ( 2 found)
HMS Penn 1 ( 3 found)
HMS Phoebe 3 ( 7 found)
HMS Quentin 0 ( 2 found)
HMS Reknown 0 ( 1 found)
HMS Rodney 2 ( 3 found)
HMS Sirius 1 ( 3 found)
HMS Tartar 1 (1 found)
HMS Victorious 0 ( 2 found)
HMS Wilton 1 ( 2 found)
HMS Wolverine 0 ( 2 found)
HMS Wren 0 (2 found)
HMS Zetland 3 (3 found)
Italian E-Boat Flotilla 1 (1 E-Boat commander coming; sunk Wairangi.
Junkers 88 (Luftwaffe) 2 ( 2 coming but only 1 attacked Convoy)


This makes a total of 103 Operation Pedestal veterans confirmed as coming ( an increase of 3 over last month even though we had about 5 cancellations) out of a total of 207 discovered. The attendees hail from 36 of the 78 ships that took part on that Malta Convoy. Age ranges between 76 and 97. The remains of another veteran, Cpt. Roger P. Hill, RN DSO DSC will also be brought over for scattering at sea, but he is not included in the above count. Other Malta Convoy veterans who were not in Pedestal but in other convoys will also be present.

We believe a 50% participation rate, considering the age and health predicaments is astoundingly good. Though we have gained new ship participations since July, we have also lost two of the 'famous five', namely Rochester Castle and Port Chalmers which we are very sorry for. Interestingly and with great satisfaction, we have finally found an Italian veteran, meaning that with one single American amongst the group, we now have every participating nationality represented.

One or two late bookings are still expected meaning the veterans may rise to a maximum of 105 persons .

[To read Lt-Cdr Roger Hill's Obituary "Intrepid Destroyer Captain Dies" please go to This Is Worcestershire.]




Subject: Specially Commissioned Painting for the 60th Anniversary Commemoration and other news
Date: Wednesday, September 18, 2002 5:33 AM


Dear Veterans and Friends

I have pleasure in informing you that I have the honour to have been delegated to collect from The Honourable Company of Master Mariners in London, SS Ohio's Bell and medals of Cpt. Dudley Mason for display during this important Commemoration which Artifacts will be brought over next Saturday on a flight by our National Carrier, Airmalta.

We trust you consider this a most welcomed and prestigious addition for this special occasion.




Subject: Specially Commissioned SS Ohio Painting
Date: Monday, September 16, 2002 7:14 AM


Dear Veterans and Friends

... I am attaching a full colour copy of the Original Water Colour Painting by reknowned Maltese Naval Artist, Edwin Galea. (Please Click Here for the Introduction) and (Please Click Here for the Painting)

This Painting was especially commissioned by Technoline Ltd of 51, Edgar Bernard Street, Gzira, Malta for the 60th Anniversary Commemoration of Operation Pedestal, from which a limited number of 700 Artist signed and numbered printed copies will be sold and auctioned over the coming months and years to raise funds for a proposed Military Vehicle Museum Project.

The latter venue will eventually serve as the location where all the Pedestal artifacts and other memorabilia that a number of you shall be very kindly donating, will go on permanent display.

It is hoped that this Museum Project would also be in liason with the National War Museum, who are in need of new premises also and I augur that this joint initiative may one day materialise.

The Painting in caption has been portrayed from an unusual angle, to our knowledge never before attempted- ie from inside French Creek as against to most of the others that portray Ohio from the Valletta side.

The positioning of the vessels on the picture have been established after interviews with survivors and the RAF details referred to ( pilot names and plane registration details) are also taken from actual 185 Sqdrn. flight log information of the formation of 4 Spitfires that circled at an altitude of 5000 feet between 1015 and 1115 hrs over Grand Harbour on August 15th 1942.

One of these brave pilots was Pilot Officer J.W. Baril who was killed in action a week later aged 22 years, hence my obvious choice, together with another, to feature amongst the two Spitfire crew depicted by name (out of the four)....




Subject: Malta is waiting...
Date: Sunday, September 22, 2002 8:08 AM


Dear Veterans and Friends

I have just returned today in the early hours from a short but special trip to London.......I went to the Honourable Company of Master Mariners on board HQS Wellington at Temple Stairs,The Embankment, London to collect a special box. The contents of the box were part of items bequested to the Honourable Company by former member, Cpt Dudley Mason of SS Ohio fame, after his death. The box was known to our National Carrier, Airmalta who was just as keen to carry it as I was to be its courier.

On arrival at Malta International Airport at about 01.30hrs this morning was a Professional Photographer and a host of curious Airmalta Staff......the box was unloaded onto the tarmac and opened........to reveal a gleaming solid brass Bell with the words... "SS OHIO 1940" much to the disbelief and admiration of the small crowd present.

The relic returns to Malta for a few days only, together with another box housing the display of Cpt. Dudley Mason's medals including an original George Cross he won in Pedestal.

... the Malta Postal Autorities will release a special limited edition 'Operation Pedestal' First Day Cover on the 25th September throughout all branch post offices of Malta and Gozo.

All that remains is that a stand for the Bell is manufactured ( tomorrow morning) so that the bell can be part of the Official functions where I look forward to installing its clapper and hearing it peal, together in your valued company for the first time in Malta in 60 years.......beckoning the ghost of that gallant ship that lies in two parts a few miles off the coast of Malta.

I do hope you all have a comfortable trip over. We already received about 8 of you over the last few days.

This will most likely be my last email before we actually meet and bring to fruition the hard work that the Organising Committee has prepared for the homecoming of its WWII unsung heroes.

SEE YOU ALL SOON!

Best Regards and God Bless,

Simon Cusens




Simon's Letters are Continued in PART TWO: AFTER THE REUNION.



Simon Cusens' E-mail: scusens@technoline-mt.com
Tel: +356 (21) 344345
Fax : +356 (21) 343952


Go to Danny Omara's website Malta Convoy August 1942


Simon Cusens' Letters are part of the Allied Merchant Navy of WWII website.


To go to "Allied Merchant Navy's" TABLE of CONTENTS Please Click Here.