The Siege of Malta (1940 to 1943)
The people of Malta suffered terrible conditions during the siege of Malta and their bravery was honoured by the award of the George Cross in April 1942 by King George VI.
The bombing was almost non-stop; during the months 1st January 1942 to 24th July 1942 there was only ONE period of 24 hours without bombs falling. Malta endured 154 continuous day and night bombings.
The memories of this terrible time prompted a retired Navy man called Fred Plenty, to bring together comrades and friends so that they could share their experiences. He enlisted the help of his one time Captain, Capt. E.A.S Bailey. Together, with a small group of others, they launched the George Cross Island Association in July 1987. The membership included both British and Maltese and quickly grew in numbers drawn from Navy, Army, Air Force, Merchant Navy, nursing and Civil Defence personnel. Fred Plenty became a Life Vice President and Founder of the Association.
The GCIA membership operates from several geographical branches (see our membership page for details), including the all important Malta Branch which was founded by Col A.L. Pace Bonello, MBE who is himself a veteran of the Siege of Malta. We do however, all come together whenever possible at various events during the year.
The Association hold a reunion in Malta every year to commemorate the award of the George Cross and to remember over 7,000 civilians and serving men who were killed during this bitter and prolonged siege.
At the inception, the Association was fortunate to have as our President, Admiral of the Fleet, The Lord Lewin. Sadly, the Lord Lewin died in January 1999. The current President of the GCIA is Judge Dr.Joseph Galea Debono B.A., L.L.D.
One of the many important events The Lord Lewin attended as President of the GCIA was the inauguration on the 29th May 1992 of a 10 Ton Bronze Bell (known as the Siege Bell) which is situated overlooking Grand Harbour. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh KG.KT. Prince Philip was also present along with the then President of Malta, H.E. Doctor Tabone. The Siege Bell is a memorial to the 7000 people who lost their lives in the WW II Siege of Malta and was the brainchild of a member of the Malta GC Branch of the GCIA, the late Mr Philip Pullicino.
Siege Bell facts: