Wellington has other items on permanent display that relate to key events in the Second World War. There is a painting of the tanker, SS Ohio, and the ship’s bell and wheel. The Ohio was part of a convoy sent to relieve Malta in 1942. Malta was an important Mediterranean base for the allies and a symbol of Allied resistance. It could not be allowed to fall to the enemy.
Fourteen fast merchant ships left Britain on 1 August 1942 with vital supplies for the island, including fuel. The convoy, known as Operation Pedestal, picked up a massive escort in the Straits of Gibraltar. As the ships steamed past North Africa, they were attacked by enemy aircraft and U-boats, and then by submarines and torpedo boats. Two cruisers and the Ohio were hit. More air attacks followed but, as the convoy neared Malta, Allied planes came out to help. The Ohio was so badly damaged that she had to be supported by warships lashed alongside, just to keep afloat. In all, just five of the merchant ships reached Malta, and out of the forty-five warships escorting the convoy, five were sunk and six put out of action. But Malta was saved.
You can see relics from the Ohio free of charge when you visit the free exhibition, Abandon Ship!