Association President

The 2019 Malta G.C. Reunion.

As the last of our members from the United Kingdom return home at the close of this year's Reunion, we look back upon two weeks of varied activities and commemorations of the 77th. Anniversary of the award of the George Cross to the Island's inhabitants and defenders on 15th. April, 1942.

 The highlight, of course, is always the commemoration and prayer service held at the foot of the Siege Bell Memorial at the Lower Barrakka in Valletta on April 15. This year it was attended by Malta's newly elected President, Dr. George Vella. The event, which is organised by Malta Branch, was attended by members of the Diplomatic Corps and representatives of the various veteran Associations of British and Maltese units which served on the Island during World War II. 

Sunday 14, April was a full day opening with a church service at the Chapel of the Armed Forces of Malta Head Quarters at the former RAF Luqa. Members were then first taken on a guided tour to part of the Dwejra Lines on the highest point of the North West Front of the Victoria Lines from where they could appreciate the extent of the "big wall of Malta" built by the Royal Engineers during the last quarter of the 19th. Century. This was followed by a visit to Fort Mosta which was the central fort of this great defence work. 

But that was not all. A visit to Fort St. Elmo followed. Heritage Malta held an open day at the fort to commemorate the award of the George Cross and the various activities, re-enactments and attractions were brought to an end by a poignant power-point presentation on the hardship and suffering of the Maltese during the siege, ably researched and delivered by the National Secretary, Pat Scott. Those who visited the War Museum within the Fort could view the original George Cross medal and King George VI's letter to the Governor bestowing the award in a special display.

Other new events introduced for the first time this year were guided tours to the Maritime Museum and Fort St. Angelo in Vittoriosa. The Fort was referred to as H.M.S. St. Angelo and served as Naval HQ  till the final departure of the British Forces on 31st. March, 1979. A special exhibition marking this event based on interviews with Maltese and British members of the Royal Navy who are still alive was of particular interest. 

The usual commemorative service at the Malta Aviation Museum in the former RAF fighter station at Ta' Qali was for the first time followed by the guided tour of Mtarfa Military Cemetery as guests of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 

This beautiful, tranquil cemetery, steeped in history, lies in the shadow of the 
ancient city of Mdina. With over 1,400 military and civilian graves, some of the headstones bear machine-gun bullet damage incurred during low-level strafing attacks on the airfield nearby, and serve as a reminder of Malta' s suffering and resilience during WWII. 


The visits to the Naval Memorial at Msida, The RAF memorial and the War Memorial outside the city walls and the now traditional Band display given by the Armed Forces of Malta followed by the reception in the Officers' Mess brought this year's activities to a close, but not quite.

On April 25, visiting members attended the ANZAC DAY commemorative service at the Pieta' Military Cemetery where over 1,400 servicemen mostly from the Gallipoli campaign of 1915-1916 are laid to rest. After the dignified and well-organised service, farewells and pledges to meet again next year were exchanged during the reception hosted by the Australian High Commissioner at her residence in Naxxar.


Joseph Galea Debono.
PRESIDENT,
GEORGE CROSS ISLAND ASSOCIATION. 


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