There are many people like me whose fathers lived and fought during World War II.
My father fought in Malta but no matter which country they fought in, or what type of fighting they were made to do, these old veterans hardly ever spoke of what they went through during those difficult times. They just kept it all to themselves, and it would take great persistence for their family to get them to even mention what happened to them.
I have spoken to a great many people of my age who experienced the same difficulties in this type of communication.
To add to this, veterans of modern warfare, when the conflicts end, are given counselling to get over the trauma they experienced, whereas those who fought in World War I and II were expected to go back home and get on with the rest of their lives.
This is probably why they kept all the nasty memories to themselves.
The well-known British author, military historian and broadcaster, James Holland, who has written among others a major and best-selling history of the aerial battle for our island in 1942, Fortress Malta, probably saw a lot of this holding back of memories by veterans.
Subsequently and perhaps inspired by this experience, he wrote a book called A Pair of Silver Wings. The novel is about a World War II fighter pilot veteran, reluctantly going back down memory lane, and revisiting the places he served in during the war.
The book starts off with a young 19-year-old pilot who started flying Spitfires during the end of the Battle of Britain and his making friends with other young men of similar disposition who flew together, fought and some died together.
When the air war ended in Britain he and his friend were sent to Malta to help the island against the German and Italian aerial assault.
At least half the book details his adventures in Malta and the fighting that occurred here at that time. The book goes back and forth between the modern day Malta and the war torn island of the 1940s.
The production will bring actual flying Spitfires and Hurricanes to the island for filming
The book is full of action, friendship, heroism and eventual victory.
When the attacks on Malta had ended, the young pilot was sent to Italy were he flew in support of the Allied invasion.
He was shot down in Italy and spent a while fighting with the Italian resistance.
It is a great book and avery enthralling story, full of action and heartache, happiness and friendships.
Why am I telling you all this?
Well the exciting thing is that this book is being made into a major action movie which will be mostly shot in Malta. Ever since the great film The Malta Story starring Sir Alec Guinness made in 1953, there has never been a film made about Malta’s wartime struggle, but the siege plays a vital backdrop to the story of Edward Enderby, a wartime fighter pilot who finds himself battling over the skies of the island in 1942 and who then returns for the first time 50 years later.
Well, now there is, and what a film. Packed with action and humanity, love and heartache. It will be like a World War II equivalent of The Magnificent Seven, with young men fighting to keep our country safe.
Casting for the film has already started, and authentic sites have been selected as potential filming locations. Meetings have already taken place with government officials needed to smooth the whole process along.
Among the very talented team that is being assembled to make A Pair of Silver Wings is debut feature director Steven Hall, who as a visual effects cinematographer and second unit director has worked on many of the most successful films of recent years including Gladiator, Star Wars, War Horse and the recent TV adaptation of War & Peace.
With his experience of visual effects work and the fact that the production will bring actual flying Spitfires and Hurricanes to the island for filming, you can imagine what flying action spectacles are going to be seen by the viewers.
Also on board is producer Steve Milne, and British Film Company, responsible for the recent critically acclaimed, Spitfire, another notable film that had its very high profile and successful premier in London last week, and producer Alec Mackenzie, who most recently was the executive producer of the Bafta/Bifa award- winning film, Kajaki.
A film like this, which should be very successful, will need to use many local sites such as the war rooms in Valletta, the Xara Palace Hotel in Mdina and many others. These sites, unlike the sets made for films such as Troy and Gladiator, will be fixed and cannot be removed, and will therefore become excellent tourism attractions for film-loving tourists.
This film should be great for Malta’s tourism as well as an amazing vehicle to show future generations just what Malta went through and the heroics shown during World War II.
The script is now ready. The casting is under way. The production team is organising the funding.
Maltese film set and model makers are soon to be asked to do what they do best. But this time it will not be an ordinary blockbuster film, they will be working on a film about Malta and what Malta did for humanity.
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