Death of a hero
Older members of the Maltese community will remember the convoy of ships called Operation Pedestal on which the SS Ohio was a very important ship, a tanker containing petrol which the Royal Air Force in Malta needed to continue flying, trying to stop the Germans bombing Malta.
During the passage of this convoy, a German plane was shot down and crashed on to the deck of the Ohio while still loaded with bombs. The Ohio was abandoned.
Shortly after, Ron Howe of the Royal Air Force (RAF) who was trained in bomb disposal was put aboard the ship with a Maltese sergeant to help him.
He managed to defuse the bombs and the Ohio was then towed into Valletta Harbour and beached. Her cargo was saved.
Regrettably, this letter is to inform readers of the death on March 5 of Ronald Leslie Howe, aged 78 years, of 31 Cowes Road, Grantham NG 31 Lincolnshire, England.
As mentioned, Mr Howe was in the RAF; but during his service he had more contact with the Royal Navy than the air force, travelling many miles on ships of the navy to use his expertise in bomb disposal.
For his work on the Ohio he was rewarded by the Maltese government with the Maltese Cross.
He and his wife were active members of the Grantham branch of the Royal Naval Association of which I am the chairman. At branch meetings, Mr Howe had to endure much leg pulling about his membership of the RAF but he was able to give as good as he got.
I visited Malta in 1946 aboard the battleship HMS Anson, and at that time the Ohio was still in Valletta harbour but I understand that it was eventually towed out to sea and sunk.