OPERATION " PEDESTAL " was the culmination of the series of convoys to Malta. On its success or failure the fate of Malta may well have hinged. Both sides fully appreciated its importance, and both sides put all their previous experience into their offensive or defensive efforts. Probably no convoy in history has ever been subjected to such a scale and diversity of attack. In the event, though sorely mauled, sufficient ships got through to Malta to tide the island over until the great events of the autumn finally brought relief. But it was a near thing, and had the Italians used their surface forces as they had originally intended, they might well have prevented a single merchant ship from getting through.