This book is, in a larger sense, the author's distillation of his experiences as an RAF Flight Lieutenant in 601 Squadron during his tour of duty on the island of Malta in the Spring of 1942. At that stage of the war, Malta served as a linchpin in Britain's ongoing efforts to retain a presence in North Africa and the Mediterranean against the Axis Powers. From Malta, British air and naval vessels would harry German and Italian ships sending supplies to Rommel in the Western Desert during the height of the fighting there. Ship sinkings became almost prohibitive to the Axis, so both the Germans and Italians resolved to destroy Malta through air assault.
Barnham was newly married and in his early 20s when he volunteered for service in Malta, which at the time of his arrival, was on the point of starvation. Through his diary entries and the sketches and paintings he made, Barnham speaks honestly about his struggles to take to the skies that were overwhelmingly dominated by the Axis Powers, overcoming his qualms about war's utter brutality, and simply coping with what seemed at the time to be the likelihood of a joint Italo-German invasion of the island. This book is also a testament to the ability of the human spirit, under the pressures of war, to endure and prevail against overwhelming odds.