Diana Mackintosh came of age to the drone of sirens alerting the people of Malta to the arrival of relentless flights of belligerent German and Italian menace–the bombers she first imagined as a swarm of black flies, pests that stung and cursed her Mediterranean homeland. The three-year onslaught never took a day off; it was endless, but supplies were not. The hope of a shipment of high protein became an ongoing dream. The only time Diana wasn’t hungry was when she slept. Her story of that time, and in 2020 she is one of the very few remaining who experienced it first-hand, makes it clear why Malta was collectively awarded the George Cross, the highest British civilian honour for heroism. Of course, as she argues, no one was trying to be heroic, but somehow they helped reverse the fortunes of the Second World War in the Mediterranean and North Africa.
Now at the age of 101, Diana is also celebrated for her children’s achievements — she helped her eldest son, Sir Cameron Mackintosh, and worked as his unpaid secretary — and for a life in the wings of British cinema, Hollywood and theatreland. Spitfire Girl recounts Diana’s extraordinary life, more than a century in the making.