Association President


The 2017 Reunion of the George Cross Island Association has come and gone and we can look back with nostalgia on this year’s events which coincided with the commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the award of the George Cross to the people of Malta on 15th April, 1942. Unfortunately, the years are taking their toll and as the Maltese and British veterans pass away and the second generation members are showing more and more grey hairs, the numbers attending get less and less every year. This however does not dampen the enthusiasm with which those who can still make the effort to fly to these Islands show in participating in the activities laid down by the organisers.

My thanks first of all go to the National Chairman, the National Secretary and Treasurer and their helpers for deciding to hold the Annual Reunion in my country once again this year.

Secondly, I thank the Chairman and members of the Malta GC Branch for organising the poignant ceremony at the Siege Bell Memorial on April 15, which is always the highlight of the reunion.

The participation of those members who attended the Church service at St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral on Easter Sunday which was followed by the special service to remember the fallen added to the spiritual significance of the occasion.

My thanks also go to the Ministry of Justice, Culture and Local Councils, who, on behalf of the Government of Malta, hosted us at the Auberge de Castille, which houses the office of the Prime Minister and, during the War years, was Head Quarters, Royal Artillery. Those who attended this occasion organised by the indefatigable Mario Farrugia, Chairman of Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna, were literally mesmerised by the lecture given by the famous historian James Holland who encapsulated the highlights of Malta’s war effort in a well-planned power point presentation which was matched by his own passionate delivery. This event was attended by two of our veterans and a good number of members who had the opportunity to share their experiences with the lecturer.

There were of course the other regular events such as the courtesy visit by the GCIA officials to Her Excellency the President of Malta at San Anton Palace, the service at the Aviation Museum and the laying of wreaths at the Naval, Air Force and National War Monuments, as well as the Armed Forces of Malta band concert and reception in the Officers Mess, which were also well attended.

Finally, those who remained on the Island long enough attended the St George’s Day Dinner organised by the British Residents Association, at the Sky Room of the Preluna Hotel, and the ANZAC DAY commemoration at Pieta’ Military Cemetery at which The National Chairman, the Chairman of the Malta GC Branch and I laid wreaths on the monument for the fallen. It was a dignified occasion which was followed by a delightful reception hosted by Her Excellency Ms. Julienne Hince at the residence of the Australian High Commissioner. This was the occasion for exchanging emotional farewells and a pledge to meet again next year.
From left to right The Australian High Commissioner, the Executive President  of Malta's National Trust , Din l-Art Helwa and myself.

My appeal to all officials and members of the Association is to make sure that the few of us who are left retain their determination to keep the fire burning and to go forward together in a sense of unity, forbearance and solidarity. Only these qualities can ensure that our Association can continue to achieve its purpose and declared aims.

Joseph Galea Debono.

All photographs by courtesy of Giovanni Navarro and Edward Barkway.