BBC Radio 4: Saturday Night Theatre
Broadcast: Saturday 31st August 1974, 8:30 p.m.
October 1941. With the slowdown in the Russian campaign, Adolf Hitler has decided to put his attention to the Mediterranean. Admiral Erich Rader has placed before the Fuhrer a plan, consequent upon the defeat of Russia, which envisioned the conquest of the Middle East, the overthrow of India, culminating in a junction of the Italian-German forces forming a giant pincer movement with their allies, the Japanese. Hitler has called this plan, 'The Great Plan'. There was one vital condition, however, for the success of this enterprise: the complete defeat of the British base at Malta. General Field Marshal Kesselring, who has been put in charge of this, wants this completed by February 1942.
'Operation Pedestal' was a British operation to get desperately needed supplies to the island of Malta, now on its knees, in August 1942. Malta was the base from which surface ships, submarines and aircraft attacked Axis convoys carrying essential supplies to the Italian and German armies in North Africa. In 1941 and 1942, Malta was effectively under siege, blockaded by Axis air and naval forces. To sustain Malta, the United Kingdom had to get convoys through at all costs. 'Operation Pedestal' will be the most important convoy of the war to date with supplies of food, ammunition, and above all, crude oil and high-octane aviation fuel.
"Operation Pedestal" was especially written by Frederick Treves as a tribute for some of those who took part in the fateful convoy to Malta in August 1942. As a 17-year-old, Frederick Treves was on his first voyage with the Merchant Navy on board the freighter, Waimarama, which was one of the fourteen ship convoy 'Operation Pedestal' sent to the relief of the besieged island of Malta. The 'Operation Pedestal' convoy was the most bombarded convoy in the entire war.
With Gareth Johnson [Richard Stobbard, a Cadet], Don McKillop [Captain John Fordyce], John Hollis [1st Officer Henry Robinson], Alan Rowe [2nd Officer Willy Hunt], Michael Cochrane [Senior Apprentice Hugh MacKintyre], Brian Pringle [Old Banks, the Pantryman], Jack Carr ["Nobby" Clark, Engine Room Seaman], David Rowlands [Lieutenant Edwards, RN, Signals Officer and Naval Liaison], Manning Wilson [Mansir, the Steward], Vernon Joyner [Chief Petty Officer Jones], and Alan Dudley [General Field Marshal Kesselring].
The poems were read by Frederick Treves.
Produced by Roger Pine.
I am grateful to 's-j' of 'radiofans' for sending this information - N.D.
Summarized extract from the obituary of Commander Peter Savage, DTelegraph 1 Jun 2011
Peter Savage was a wartimie internee in Sweden and later became a leading tactician in the Fleet Air Arm.
In October 1981 Savage was given command of 809 Naval Air Squadron, flying the Fairey Fulmar fighter from the carrier 'Victorious'. After winter operations in the Arctic, 'Victorious' was part of the escort for OPERATION PEDESTAL, a convoy regarded as a last chance to relieve the siege of Malta.
After the two battleships, four aircraft carriers, seven cruisers, 32 destroyers and 14 merchant ships had entered the Med, Savage's squadron shot down two enemy aircraft, but lost three of its sixteen Fulmars. Five merchant ships, however, made it to Malta, thus lifting the siege. Savage was awarded a DSO.
He went on to found the School of Naval Air Warfare, which trained many pilots and RN officers. His real name was Edward Graham Savage but he was known as 'Peter' to distinguish him from his father and grandfather, who had the same names. He was born on 21 Apr 1912, and died on 21 Mar 2011.
Back to top