Association President



Remembrance week was commemorated in Malta in a number of functions and events this year. It started off with the launch of a book by the Gozitan father and son tandem, Frank and Charles Bezzina. The book “Maltese Refugees in Gozo During Wartime“,covers the suffering and experiences of some 5000 Maltese from the target areas on the main Island who took refuge on the smaller sister island which was undefended and therefore spared the worst of the bombing, except for a handful of incidents in which bombs were jettisoned by enemy aircraft on being intercepted by the RAF fighters. As one of the guests of honour at this event, I was presented with a copy of the book on behalf of the George Cross Island Association.

A commemoration was held at the Saluting Battery of the Upper Barracca in Valletta on November 11 at 11am. This event was organised by Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna, the non-governmental heritage organisation, headed by its Chairman, the indefatigable Mario Farrugia. The commemoration was a prayer service led by the Rev. Canon Simon Godfrey, Chancellor of St. Paul’s  Anglican Cathedral. After I read out the Exhortation the trumpeters of the Armed Forces of Malta sounded the Last Post and Standard bearers lowered their standards and Number 1 gun fired at the start of the two-minute silence. The firing of Number 2 gun was followed by the trumpeters sounding the Reveille.

The Chairman of Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna then read out the Commitment and Mr. Peter Robinson MBE, Chairman of the GCIA Malta Branch read out the Dedication. This was followed by the laying of wreaths at the foot of a temporary Cenotaph erected for the occasion by members of the Diplomatic Corps present, Mr. Robinson as Chairman of the British Legion, myself on behalf of the George Cross Island Association and Mrs. Mary Robinson on behalf of the Malta GC Branch of the GCIA as well as representatives of a number of the veteran associations present.  Prayers by the Reverend Simon Godfrey brought the short but equally poignant ceremony to a close. 

The National State commemoration was held on Sunday 12th. November, commencing with High Mass in St. John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta at 10am. This was followed by the official wreath laying service at the Floriana War Memorial which was attended by the President of the Republic, The Prime Minister, members of the Diplomatic Corps and representatives of the veteran organisations including myself as President of the GCIA, Peter Robinson as President of the Royal British Legion and Mrs. Mary Robinson on behalf of the Malta GC Branch. A two-minute silence was signaled by the firing of the 25-pounder field guns of the Armed Forces of Malta. An Islander aircraft of the Air Wing of the Armed Forces of Malta then flew low over the War Memorial and dropped poppies on the area.
This year’s Armistice Day commemorations assumed a special meaning being the 75th. Anniversary of the award of the George Cross to the Island of Malta in April 1942 by King George VI.


On Thursday 9th. November the Malta Branch of the GCIA held its Annual General Meeting and this was followed by an excellent Annual Luncheon for Association members and their guests. The Luncheon held at the Sky Room of the Hotel Preluna, was attended by H.E. the British High Commissioner Mr Stuart Gill and Mrs. Gill, the American Ambassador, H.E. Kathleen Hill, the High Commissioner of Ghana and the Consul for New Zealand, Mrs. Jill Camilleri. The President of the Republic, who could not attend because of another commitment, sent a video recorded message wishing the GCIA every success in keeping the memory of the siege alive as an inspiration to present and future generations of Maltese. As the President of the GCIA I proposed a toast to the President while the Chairman of Malta Branch, Mr. Peter Robinson proposed a toast to the members of the Association. As in previous years, the organisation of the Luncheon was in the capable hands of Mrs. Mary Robinson who did everyone proud. 



(All pictures by courtesy of Mr. Giovanni Navarro, the Malta G.C. Branch, PRO and Events Co-ordinator)

Joseph Galea Debono.