All Hallows 2017

The service and wreath laying ceremony took place on Saturday 12th August 2017.  It was attended by 65 members including those from the Malta Culture Movement and the MNA.  The service was officiated by the Revd. Bertram Olivier and Fr Victor Camilleri and our honoured guest was Ms Chantal Sciberras, the Consul to the Malta High Commission.  

The service commenced with the opening hymn at which time the colours were laid on the altar together with the book of remembrance.  The GCIA prayer was read by Jack McNulty, and the reading was read by Alan Sandall, a poem by Vic Kenchington entitled “All Hallow Remembrance Service 2017” was read by Michael Gaw.  

The welcome by the Lady National Chairman included a letter from our Patron HRH The Duke of Edinburgh as follows:

I was very pleased to get your message from all members of the George Cross Island Association attending the 12th anniversary of the re-dedication of the Malta Siege Memorial at all hallows by the tower and the 75th anniversary of the award of the George Cross to the island fortress of Malta.

Please convey my warm thanks and my very best wishes for a memorable occasion. Signed - Phillip, Patron

Following the service and retrieving of the colours and book of remembrance the congregation moved outside to the Malta Siege Memorial for the wreath laying ceremony.  Wreaths were laid as follows under the direction of Diane Dyer:- Jointly for the Service Personal who gave their lives during the Siege of Malta and since and, for the People of Malta:- National Lady Chairman Julia Gaw and the Malta Consul Chantal Scibberas.  For Royal Navy Jack McNulty, RAF Graham Cooper ASR, Army Bernard Somerset and the Merchant Navy Tony Downey.  The colours were carried by Michael Gaw (SE Branch) Barry Wenman (West Branch and John Miller (Merchant Navy)  Following the Exhortation by Jack McNulty, the playing of the last post, reveille and the Maltese and the British National Anthems, those who were attending the lunch at the Union Jack Club were taxied there with the compliments of the London Taxi Drivers Benevolent Association for War Disabled arranged and organised by their Secretary Paul Davis assisted by Gill Davis and Derek and Brenda for whom we are most grateful.


GCIA Chairman Julia Gaw presents standard bearers to Malta High Commission Consul Ms Chantal Sciberras.Wreath Layers

 Royal Navy – Jack McNulty
Army – Bernard Somerset

  RAF - Graham Cooper Merchant Navy – Paul Smith

The lunch at the Union Jack was excellent and enjoyed by all.  It was sad that this year Vera Hodges, Connie Vella, Tony Downey and Carole Rogers were unable to attend due to illness and we wish them well.  Sadly Pat Scott could not be with us due to the ill health of her parents whom are both in hospital and we all hope that they are better soon.  Votes of thanks were given to Julia and her committee by Alan Sandall (WB) and Ron Quested (MNA) for organising such a harmonious and enjoyable day.  We would like to thank Diane Dyer for her hard work not only making the day a success but for everything she does for the Association throughout the year.

This year on 15th August Joan Faruggia will be 90 years young and a rousing “Happy Birthday was sung in her honour – many congratulations.  A collection was taken for the London Taxi Drivers Association raising £149.95p and a big thank you to all those that contributed to this so worthwhile charity.  In conclusion, the members make the association and many thanks to you all for supporting this event.


Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear friends,

It is an absolute pleasure and honour for me to be here with you today, representing the High Commissioner of Malta on this occasion.  Today we commemorate a key moment in the history of the Maltese islands, as it marked a turning point in the Second World War. Today we commemorate Operation Pedestal that took place in August 1942. The preceding months were some of the most difficult for my country, which endured relentless bombing and attacks due to its strategic location in the centre of the Mediterranean. All of us know full well of the struggles of this time and the Santa Maria Convoy, as the Operation is also known due to its timing in the religious calendar, is at times obviously considered a miracle. Most importantly, today we commemorate the courage of the brave men and women who contributed to the war effort, some also with their lives.

I have been asked to say a few words on this occasion and remark on life in Malta during the time of the Siege. I have had the good fortune of growing up in a time of relative global peace. Whilst terrible regional conflicts have taken place since 1945, with some of these being protracted, with no end in sight, thankfully none have escalated to a global level, despite close misses. I believe the horrors of World War II have been a potent factor in ensuring that the international community and world leaders do not repeat the mistakes of the past.

I thus do not have any personal memories to share. I have however heard countless stories and anecdotes recounted by my father and my aunts, who were children at the time of World War II, and also those of my grandmother who witnessed both World Wars in her lifetime. All described the hardships faced on a daily basis by the Maltese, similar to ones that can be read in officers’ diaries and journals of the time – the constant alert for air raids, the rationing of food, the Victory kitchens, and the stifling air and smells of the war shelters, to which one and all took refuge upon hearing the sound of the air raid siren. 

However, the stories that were repeatedly recounted and really and truly stuck with me were the ones that actually brought a smile to my face – my father’s and aunt’s frequent refusal to stop playing and enter a war shelter during an air raid, leading to their parents and carers frantically searching for them, hoping that they were safe. My great grandfather opening the doors to his home to share meals with widows and little children who had little to eat, my grandmother who till her dying day stocked large supplies of tinned and non-perishable items… just in case…, my grandfather trading a bag of sugar for a cat to keep him company. The wonderful life events that took place in war shelters such as weddings and the births of children. 

To me, these are unique stories that are likely being witnessed in refugee camps worldwide or in war torn countries as we speak. However, they really are a reflection of the values and spirit that prevailed and proved to be pivotal in surviving the siege of Malta – defiance, faith, coming together as a community, solidarity, generosity, resourcefulness and resilience. 
Bravery and gallantry are the reasons as to why the Maltese people were awarded the George Cross. Whilst the sacrifices that have been made by many were great, some even inconceivable, the qualities I have mentioned are also what distinguished our nation at wartime, and I think these fit well within the broad meaning and connotations of the terms Bravery and Gallantry. Without these, the inhabitants of Malta could not have endured as much as they have and I firmly believe that these qualities and the experiences of war are what led to the Maltese islands flourishing in subsequent years and, despite our size and resource limitations, always living up to the challenges presented, no matter how large or small. 

To conclude, please allow me to thank, on behalf of the Government of Malta, the founders and members of the George Cross Island Association for the organisation of this wonderful commemoration today. I also wish to express my Government’s appreciation for the endeavours made over the past years by you all in further strengthening the relationship between the people of Malta and the United Kingdom, which is indeed a very special friendship based on our shared history, experiences and values that we also celebrate here today.  Thank you

This report was written by National Chairman, Mrs Julia Gaw.