In 1942, this was high-tech communications equipment. Thanks to the telephone switch, the air commanders could stay in constant contact with all the airfields on Malta and guide their planes away from threatened positions.
This is how the air component of a global war is managed. The commanders would use little clips that would attach to the board to mark the status of each squadron. I must say I am a bit surprised at this. Given the size of World War II - huge - I somehow expect everything to be to the same scale. This is a global armed conflict, for Christ's sake, you can't fight it in a tiny office with pen and paper!
The flight clock. Squadrons didn't spend much time in the air. From takeoff to battle to back was on the order of seven to twelve minutes (although it probably felt longer for the person in the plane). A flight would be color-coded with the triangle closest to the minute hand when it took off. So, for example, a plane taking off now would be "yellow".
Gozo is in the distance to the left. The island in the middle is Comino, with the Blue Lagoon just about where the boat is seen. If the photo extended a bit more to the right, the northernmost tip of Malta would be visible.
I saw the greatest minds of my generation destroyed by madness and lust
I have no idea what the heart is for and who Basil is. The text is a modified version of the first two lines of Howl by Allen Ginsberg:
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
madness, starving hysterical naked,