By May 1942, Prime Minister Churchill concluded Malta faced invasion or surrender. Spitfires were desperately needed on Malta as only a dozen Hurricanes and Spitfires remained serviceable. For a second time, he requested the loan of the USS Wasp from President Roosevelt to join with HMS Eagle in Operation Bowery On May 9th, sixty-seven Spitfires were launched from 100 miles North of Algiers in N. Africa and sixty-one were delivered safely. This marked the pivot point in the Air Battle For Malta!
RAF Sgt L. Joseph Morsheimer (RCAF/USA) flew Spitfire Mk Vc BR169 from HMS Eagle, landing at Luqa airfield while under attack, covering the 700 miles in 3hr 55mins. The pilots from HMS Eagle were a complete flight from 611 Squadron. Eleven F4F Wildcats flew air cover. Canadian Sgt. Bob Sherrington crashed into the sea on take-off and was killed.
Plt Off J. Smith lost his long-distance tank, becoming the first Spitfire to land on a carrier - the Wasp. Upon arrival, the Spitfires refuelled and armed. Fresh, experienced pilots flew the planes into combat within fifteen minutes inflicting a serious defeat upon the combined German and Italian Air Forces on May 9 – 10th.
Later, Churchill sent the message, "Who Said a Wasp Can't Sting Twice?"
This magnificent painting has been commissioned by Fred Morsheimer in memory of his father Joe Morsheimer who was one of 20 pilots from 611 to be drafted away for 'Secret Duties'. See separate article on him. The artist is Jim Laurier. Any information about the painting and how to purchase a copy can be had by contacting Fred at