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'The Falcon of Malta'

Fighter pilots from the Royal Air Force played a critical role in the defence of Malta during its siege 75 years ago. One of the most renowned pilots was Canadian George Beurling, known to many as 'Screwball'.

George 'Screwball' Beurling

Spitfires and Hurricanes of the Allied forces, usually hugely outnumbered, flew in defence of the island during the Siege of Malta, fighting to keep German and Italian troops from invading.

One of those brave men who took to the skies was George 'Screwball' Beurling who joined the Royal Air Force in 1940 after being rejected by the Canadian force and unable to gain his parents' permission to join the Finnish Air Force.

During his time on Malta, George claimed  27 victories and was awarded the DFM and the DFC for this efforts. His nickname - given to him for his antics in the air - belied a man who flew on the edge in the skies and was just as flamboyant on the ground.

George was one of the most renowned Canadian who fought during the Second World War. He became Canada's top ace, claiming 31 and a half victories in all but he was not always a popular man.

Following his service in Malta he returned to Canada for a spell to drum up funds for the War until he was honourably discharged in 1944. His thirst for thrill seeking was unabated and he continued to fly as a test pilot, and was sadly killed in Rome, Italy in 1948 in an air crash.

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