During the operations in the Eastern Mediterranean last week the Fleet and the slower of the two convoys from Malta to Alexandria which the Fleet was covering were continually bombed without success. Eight heavy air attacks were made on H.M. Ships Royal Sovereign, Malaya and Eagle between 1100 and 2100 on the 11th July, and on the 12th July H.M.S. Warspite was attacked 22 times, a total of 260 to 300 bombs being dropped. Fighters from H.M.S. Eagle shot down 4 or 5 bombers with the loss of one machine rendered unserviceable.
It was impossible to look at those young men, who might within a matter of minutes be fighting and dying to save us, without mingled emotions of wonder, gratitude, and humility. The physical and mental strain of the long hours at dispersal, the constant flying at high altitudes (two or three sorties a day were normal, six or seven not uncommon), must have been prodigious.
And yet they were so cheerful, so confident, and so obviously dedicated. They were always thrilled to see Churchill, and they gave me a kindly welcome.