Association President

THE MESSAGE OF THE ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT JUDGE JOSEPH GALEA DEBONO.

               RECOGNITION OF THE VALIANT EFFORTS OF THE BOMB DISPOSAL UNITS .

The 13th. September, 1942 was a red letter day for Malta as on that day advantage was taken of the temporary reduction of the scale of bombing to hold a public ceremony where the George Cross Medal was actually presented to the people of Malta represented by the first citizen, the then Chief Justice, Sir George Borg. The Governor, Lord Gort had set up a committee with the objective of preparing a programme for this ceremony in June 1942 and as the blitz was still very heavy the Committee proposed that the ceremony should be held in the garden of the Governor’s residence at San Anton Palace. 

As things turned out, the bombing effort had been kept at bay by the tactic of forward interception by the squadrons of Spitfires which had been built up over the previous months and so it was deemed reasonably safe for the presentation ceremony to be held in the presence of a much larger audience in Palace Square in Valletta. The ceremony which was recorded in film has been a highlight of the wartime memories of the Island nation.

One of our most active members,  Susan Hudson saw her long-time ambition come to fruition 75 years later this 13th of September, when the Prime Minister of Malta, Dr. Joseph Muscat unveiled a plaque at the Upper Barakka Gardens in Valletta, commemorating the valiant and vital work carried out during the three-year siege by the Bomb Disposal Units of the Royal Engineers, of which her late father, Lt. George D. Carroll was for a number of months the only officer leading a section of 20 men.

Malta’s Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Sections made safe over 7300 unexploded bombs; 5500 anti-personnel bombs and incendiaries and more than 1800 high explosive bombs which landed on areas outside the airfields and the naval dockyards. Their work was continued after the war years and eventually it was taken over by the units of the Maltese Army who still deal with unexploded ordnance as it is discovered. These units are also commemorated on the plaque.

The short but poignant ceremony was held at 11.30 am. It was introduced by the Project Co-ordinator Susan Hudson and this was followed by another brief intervention by Ben Remfrey MBE, RE who spoke about the legacy of WWII bomb disposal in tackling today’s explosive remnants of war. A fanfare by buglers of the Armed Forces of Malta accompanied the unveiling of the plaque by the Prime Minister who also delivered a short address.  The ceremony was concluded by an eight-gun salute from the saluting battery on the lower half of the Barrakka, courtesy of Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna headed by the indefatigable Mario Farrugia, who has done so much for preserving Malta’s British Military Heritage.    

Guests present, who included Royal Engineers veterans and their relatives, who came out purposely from the United Kingdom and Canada , The National Chairman of The GCIA Mrs. Julia Gaw and the National Secretary Mr. Michael Gaw, The Chairman of the Malta GC Branch , Mr. Peter Robinson MBE and Mrs Mary Robinson and myself, were also the guests of the Royal Navy on board the Daring Class destroyer HMS Diamond in the evening berthed below the Upper Barrakka in Grand Harbour.

Meanwhile it is now public knowledge that the Prince of Wales will be in Malta on October 4 when the Maltese Government will be commemorating the 75th. Anniversary of the presentation of the George Cross in the Palace Square in the evening.

This ceremony will bring to an end the various events commemorating the 75th. Anniversary of the award of the George Cross to the Maltese which commenced with the Siege Bell Memorial function on April 15 during our annual reunion and has continued over the recent months , 



Joseph Galea Debono.
PRESIDENT,
GEORGE CROSS ISLAND ASSOCIATION. 


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