Malta Story is a 1953 black and white war film based on the heroic defence of Malta, the island itself, its people, and the RAF aviators who fought to defend it. The film uses real and unique footage of the same places the battles were fought, and includes a love story that ends with the death of the hero (a RAF pilot) and the execution of a young Maltese man who became an Italian spy.
In the meantime the situation becomes desperate as many civilians are daily buried under the rubble, and famine is threatening their survival as relief convoys become easy prey to the numerous attacks by air. Peter proposes marriage to Maria although they realize that wartime is not favourable to love affairs as her mother suggests. Nevertheless the young couple remain faithful to the future. In the mean time Maria’s brother is arrested while trying to infiltrate the island from Italy, obviously on a spy mission, for which he will be executed (which is based on the real story of Carmelo Borg Pisani). Maria’s mother lives a double drama. The island at the same time relies on the last few ships of a convoy for supplies. The scene of the heroic tanker SS Ohio (real footage) arriving half sunk in the harbour is the apex of glory for the defenders and the island of Malta collectively receives the George Cross from the King of England.
The RAF holds on, and is eventually able to take the offensive, targeting enemy shipping on its way to Rommel in Libya. Many air attacks take place either to defend the island with Spitfires or a number of various other torpedo planes, like the Beauforts, which succeed in sinking Italian tankers. There comes the moment when the most important enemy convoy is on its way to Libya under cover of poor visibility. Peter's commanding officer (Jack Hawkins) needs desperately to locate this target and orders him to find it at any cost. Peter, flying in his Spitfire, finally finds it, but has to stay close to keep contact. He is thus left alone against four enemy fighters - Messerschmitt Bf109F's - who throw everything they have against him. Peter stays calm, but cannot escape his fate; he is shot down and killed, while Maria in the operations room listens helplessly to his radio broadcasts.
The character of "Peter Ross" is apparently loosely based on that of Adrian Warburton.