As the Afrika Korps fell back from El Alemaine along the Libyan coast, one port after another as well as Axis airfields fell to the advancing British. This substantially reduced the pressure on Malta. Not only were there fewer airfields to attack Malta, but also the convoys brining in supplies. There were still occasional air raids and attacks on convoys, but at a sharply reduced number and intensity. The shift was almost immediate. The Operation Stoneage convoy reached Malta from Alexandria virtually untouched (November 20). Stoneage is often noted seen as the end of the 2-year Axis siege. The Operation Portcullis convoy reached Malta without any losses (December 6). From that point, ships began sailing to Malta without even joining convoys. The capture of Libyan airfields not only prevented NAZI air raids on the convoys, but gave the RAF Desert Air Force fields from which they could clobber the convoys. Massive supplies flowed on to the island. Ships delivered 35,000 t (November) and 55,000 t (December). There were still occasional,air attacks, but largely ineffectual. The last German air raid occurred as Sicily was falling to the Allies (July 20, 1943) It was the 3,340th alert since Italian air raids had begun June 11, 1940. [Spooner, pp. 229-30.] The battered Afrika Korps and the troops Hitler rushed to Tunisia, had limited air cover to counter growing Allied air power. Kesserling had badly depleted Luftwaffe forces in costly attacks on Malta. And little of what they had could now be spared for attacking Malta--especially after the 8th Army broke through the Marreth Line (March 1943). Axis attacks did not entirely stop until the Axis surrender in Tunisia (May 1943) and the invasion of Sicily (July 1943). [Holland]
Holland, James. Fortress Malta: An Island Under Seige 1940-43 (Miramax, 2003).
Spooner, Tony. Supreme Gallantry: Malta's Role in the Allied Victory, 1939–1945 (London: 1996).
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