Did you know a single airplane once captured an island?

Allied aircraft over Lampedusa during World War II
(Photo: U.S. Army Air Forces)
On June 12, 1943, Royal Air Force pilot Sydney Cohen and his two crewmen found themselves in dire straits over the Mediterranean. The instruments of their Fairey Swordfish torpedo bomber failed during a mission, and, unable to navigate properly, they found themselves without enough fuel to fly back to Malta, and only a single island close enough to land on: the Italian-occupied isle of Lampedusa.
A Fairey Swordfish, the type of aircraft involved in the event
(Photo: Imperial War Museums)
Having no options, they landed on the island’s airstrip close to a burning hangar and destroyed Italian planes. Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily, had already began, and nearby Lampedusa was being pummeled into submission by the Allies. The island’s 4,000-strong Italian garrison came to greet Cohen waving white sheets, offering their surrender to the three men and asking them to take a message back and make the bombing stop. Another Allied air raid disrupted the talks, almost as if to underline the desperation of the Italians. Cohen had the garrison fuel up his plane and agreed to take a note of surrender back to Malta.
A moment from the play “The King of Lampedusa,” which was very loosely based on the event
(Photo: wearethemighty.com)
Cohen’s story was picked up and turned, rather liberally, into a Yiddish-language play and musical titled “The King of Lampedusa.” The real Cohen, however disappeared while flying a mission in 1946, and was never found.

Save 10% with our National Airborne Day promotion

A paratrooper landing at Mont Saint-Michel, France to honor paratroopers who descended on D-Day
(Photo: U.S. Army, Army Sgt. Hannah Hawkins)

On the occasion of the upcoming National Airborne Day on August 16, we are offering all our tours with a 10% discount if you book a tour and pay in full until August 16, 2023. Note that this offer applies only in case of new bookings, and it cannot be combined with other special promotions. If you have any questions related to this promotion or our tours, feel free to contact our travel consultants.

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Beaches of Normandy Tours review
"It was truly amazing, I would definitely recommend BoN"D-Day Anniversary Tour, 2023
Beaches of Normandy Tours review
"It was everything I could have hoped for and more"Band of Brothers Tour, 2023
Beaches of Normandy Tours review
"I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in history that changed the world"D-Day Anniversary Tour, 2023
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4.9 - 221 reviews