The first Italian bombing attack on Malta was made on 11 June 1940. Bombing continued throughout the summer and autumn, but reinforcements continued to arrive on the island, including a few Hurricane fighters. From mid- February 1941, the Luftwaffe deployed large numbers of fighters to the battle, and the Royal Air Force (RAF) began to take heavier losses among its Hurricane fighters. Bombing attacks eased off during May 1941 as the Luftwaffe concentrated on Crete.
Renewed Axis attacks against the island in June were timed to coincide with the advance of the Afrika Korps (Africa Corps) to Egypt. Italian warships forced back an Allied supply convoy from Alexandria, and another convoy from Gibraltar was heavily attacked. But two merchantmen reached Grand Harbor, preventing starvation on the island for another two or three months.