Malta was a central naval base for the British Mediterranean Fleet with a civilian population of 270,000. It was the sole harbour between Gibraltar and Alexandria and was on the supply line to the British Army in Egypt. It was targeted by the Italian and German aircraft. From May 1940, after France signed an armistice with Germany, the British Force K, under the command of Captain Agnew, successfully destroyed Axis convoys to Libya.
From January to June 1941, Luftwaffe units tried to bomb the island into submission but they were called away to support the Russian campaign in the summer. The German planes were sent to the Mediterranean again in December 1941 and the Luftwaffe launched bombing raids on British convoys from Gibraltar and Alexandria and restored the supply line to Libya. During the air siege of Malta, the island suffered long periods of continuous bombing. In 1941 and 1942, the Luftwaffe flew 3,000 raids over the island. In 1942 the German aircraft bombed the island for 154 consecutive days. Between February and June 1942, only 2 out of 24 ships successfully unloaded their cargoes. The civilians built shelters and tunnels, where the conditions were unsanitary. The under-fed population suffered from tuberculosis, dysentery and typhoid. More than 7,000 civilians and service personnel were killed during the siege. The entire population was awarded the George Cross, the highest civilian honour for bravery.
Finally, on 15th August 1942, the oil tanker Ohio arrived in the Grand Harbour, protected by cruisers, despite having been torpedoed and bombed and successfully unloaded his cargo. Further convoys arrived in November and December 1942, providing enough supply to last until 1943.
The Allies used the bases in Malta to launched the amphibious landings in North Africa (November 1942), Sicily (July 1943) and Italy (September 1943).
Gerard was the son of Hubert and Jessie Griffin Allen of Burton Overy, Leicestershire.
Gerard attended Oakham School between 1916 and 1919. He was in School House. His school achievements are listed below:
Oakham School Cricket 1st XI, 1917 - Gerard is sat bottom left.
Oakham School Cricket 1st XI, 1918 - Gerard is standing on the far left.
Oakham School Cricket 1st XI, 1919 - Gerard is sitting on the far left.
A keen sportsman, the Oakhamian Magazine commented upon both his rugby and cricketing prowess.
Summer 1917 Cricket Review: ‘A very promising batsman, and another season ought to be good, when experience has made him a better judge of the flight of the ball. Has made several good catches in the long field.’
Summer 1918 Cricket Review: ‘A useful bat, greatly improved but rather handicapped by his height. An admirable field, and quite a useful bowler.’
Summer 1919 Cricket Review: ‘A very successful player. His batting was always sound, and he could always be relied upon to make runs. A useful bowler and a splendid field.’
Winter 1918 Rugby Review: ‘(stand-off half) very deficient in pace, but can both take and give passes, and is one of the few who knows how to drop-kick.’
After Oakham and the War
After school, Gerard enlisted in the Royal Artillery. He was a Battery Quartermaster Sergeant, 222 Battery, 10 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment.
The Royal Artilery badge.
Gerard died of wounds suffered on active service in Malta on 30th December 1942. He was 40.
Roll of honour in the Oakhamian Magazine, Summer term 1943, Vol.58.
He is buried in grave 3.3.4 at the Imtarfa Military Cemetery, Malta.
Henry was the son of Harry Percy Bright and Martha Reid Gough of Frodsham, Cheshire. His father was a master at Oakham School from 1911 to 1915 who died in the First World War.
Henry (right) at school.
Henry attended Oakham School between 1930 and 1935. He received a War Scholarship to attend Oakham School. He was in School House. His school achievements are listed below:
Oakham School Rugby 1st XV, 1933 - Henry is sitting second from the right.
Oakham School Rugby 1st XV, 1934 - Henry is sitting second from the left.
Winter 1933 Rugby review: ‘Played many good games; passed accurately, and went down to the ball well; defence excellent; an occasional attempt on the blind side would improve his attack.’
Winter 1934 Rugby review: ‘A tower of strength in attack and defence; service from the scrum usually accurate; showed great keenness throughout the season.’
After school, Henry went to RMC Sandhurst. He joined the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Irish Fusiliers as a Captain.
The Royal Irish Fusiliers badge.
He was posted in Malta. On 15th February 1942, the Axis Forces bombed Malta from 6:30am. At 5:50pm a bomb fell on Regent Cinema, Valletta. Henry was among the casualties. His body was brought to Battalion Headquarters. He was 25.
Roll of honour in the Oakhamian Magazine, Spring term 1942, Vol.57.
He is buried in grave 1.3.14 at Pembroke Military Cemetery.