November 26 - December 2, 2017: Issue 339


Entrance to the Grand Harbour with old fortifications.


By George Repin

At the beginning of World War II Malta, then a Crown Colony within the British Empire, was considered to be indefensible and, accordingly few resources were directed to defence of the archipelago.  As the war developed, however, the strategic position of Malta in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, between the British bases of Gibraltar in the West and Alexandria in the East, and its importance in intercepting and attacking movements of Axis shipping significantly contributed to the success of the Allied war effort.  This ultimate success was at a great cost in lives of airmen flying out of Malta (2,301 airmen were killed or wounded), naval personnel and the Maltese civilian population  (1,300 civilians were killed)– not to mention the extensive devastation wrought by the bombing to which the island was subjected (30,000 buildings were destroyed or damaged). The Luftwaffe and the Italian Royal Air Force flew 3,000 bombing raids over a period of two years in an effort to destroy RAF defences and the ports with the additional aim of damaging the morale of the Maltese people.

Map of the Malta Archipelago.

The Grand Harbour of Valletta - one of the three natural harbours of Malta.

The Victoria Gate to the harbour quays.

The courtyard of the Palazzo with statue of Neptune.

The bravery of the Maltese people during the Siege of Malta led to King George VI awarding the George Cross, a British award for great gallantry, to Malta on a collective basis on 15 April 1942 “to bear witness to a heroism and devotion that will long be famous in history”. A depiction of the George Cross appears to this day in the upper hoist corner of the flag of Malta.

Reproduction of message from King George Vi displayed on the outer wall of the Palazzo, awarding the George Cross.

Reproduction of message from Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President  of the USA displayed on the outer wall of the Palazzo.

Malta has a long Christian legacy. The Archdiocese of Malta is claimed to be an Apostolic See because the Acts of the Apostles tells of how St. Paul, on his way from Jerusalem to Rome to face trial, was shipwrecked on the island of “Melite” which Biblical  scholars identify with Malta – an event dated around 60 CE.  The predominant religion is Roman Catholicism, which is the established state religion.  However, the Constitution states that all persons in Malta are entitled to full freedom of conscience and enjoy the free exercise of their respective mode of religious worship.

In 1964, under the Malta Independence Act passed by the British Parliament Malta became an independent sovereign Commonwealth realm and from 1964 to 1974 was known as the State of Malta.  In 1974 the country became a republic.

Close up of part of the monument commemorating 21 September, 1964, the date of Malta's independence.

Malta is a popular tourist destination.  Each year visitors outnumber local residents three to one.  The climate is warm, and there is much to see and do – from the interesting historical architecture in the capital, Valletta to UNESCO World Heritage Sites including seven megalithic temples which are some of the oldest free-standing structures in the world. (See Reflections in Issue No. 169 June 29 2014  of this publication for a description of  the Ggantija Temples on Gozo, the second largest island in the Maltese archipelago.)

Particularly chastening are the memorials to the many who lost their lives in the fight against the forces of Italy and Germany in the defence of Malta. 

Plaque on the Malta Memorial explaining the arrangement of names on the memorial.

Plaque on the Malta memorial showing the countries over which airmen disappeared with no known graves.

Plaque on the Malta memorial listing members of the Royal Australian Air Force killed in action.

Pictures by George Repin in 2011.

Previous Reflections by George Repin 

The Nineteen Thirties  Remembering Rowe Street  The Sydney Push  Saturday Night at the Movies  Shooting Through Like A Bondi Tram  A Stop On The Road To Canberra  City Department Stores - Gone and Mostly Forgotten  An Australian Icon - thanks to Billy Hughes  Crossing The Pacific in the 1930s  Hill End  The Paragon at Katoomba  Seafood In Sydney  How Far From Sydney?  Cockatoo Island Over The Years  The Seagull at the Melbourne Festival in 1991  Busby's Bore  The Trocadero In Sydney  Cahill's restaurants Medical Pioneers in Australian Wine Making  Pedal Power and the Royal Flying Doctor Service  Pambula and the Charles Darwin Connection  Gloucester and the Barrington Tops  A Millenium Apart  Have You Stopped to Look?  Gulgong  Il Porcellino  Olympia  Durham Hall  Sargent's Tea Rooms Pie Shops and Street Photographers The Ballet Russes and Their Friends in Australia  Hotels at Bondi  Alma Ata Conference - 1978 Keukenhof - 1954 The Lands Department Building and Yellowblock Sandstone  The Goroka Show - 1958  A Gem On The Quay  Staffa  The Matson Line and Keepsake Menus Kokeshi Dolls  The Coal Mine At Balmain  The Hyde Park Barracks  The Changing Faces Of Sydney From Pounds and Pence to Dollars and Cents Nell Tritton and Alexander Kerensky  Making A Difference In Ethiopia William Balmain  J C Bendrodt and Princes Restaurant Azzalin Orlando Romano and Romano's Restaurant  Waldheim  Alcohol in Restaurants Before 1955  King Island Kelp  The Mercury Theatre   Around Angkor - 1963   Angkor Wat 1963  Costumes From the Ballets Russe Clifton at Kirribilli  Chairman Mao's Personal Physician  The Toby Tavern The MoKa at Kings Cross  The Oceaographic  Museum  in Monaco  The Island of Elba  Russian Fairy Tale Plates  Meteora  Souda Bay War Cemetery Barrow, Alaska  Cloisonné  Tripitaka Koreana Minshuku The Third Man Photographs and Memories  Not A Chagall!  Did You Listen? Did You Ask?  Napier (Ahuriri, Maori) New Zealand  Borobudur  Ggantija Temples Plumes and Pearlshells  Murano  University of Padua  Ancient Puebloe Peoples - The Anasazi   Pula  The Gondolas of Venice Cinque Terre  Visiting the Iban David The Living Desert Bryce Canyon National Park   Aphrodisias   The Divine Comedy Caodaism  Sapa and local Hill People  A Few Children  Cappadocia  Symi Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre   Aboriginal Rock Art on Bigge Island    ANZAC Cove (Ari Burnu) 25 April, 1997  Hotere Garden Oputae  Children of the Trobriand Islands  Page Park Market - Rabaul  Rabual   Kotor, Montenegro   Galleries of Photographs I   Lascaux  Galleries of Photographs II   The Cathedral of St. James – Šibenik, Croatia  Ivan Meštrović  - Sculptor   Delphi   Gallery of Photographs III  The Handicrafts of Chiang Mai Raft Point  San Simeon - "Hearst Castle"  Floriade - The Netherlands - 1982  Russian New Year  Mycenae  "Flightseeing" Out Of Anchorage Alaska  The White Pass and Yukon Route  Totem Poles  Tivkin Cemetery  Krka National Park - Croatia   Tavistock Square and the BMA  Orthodox Easter  Wieliczka Salt Mine  A Walk on Santorini  Indonesian Snapshots Ephesus - The Library of Celsus  Ephesus - Some Places Of Interest  Waimea Canyon and the Kalalau Valley United Nations Headquarters 1958  A Miscellany of Flower Images Gardens Bath St. David's In Wales   Zion National Park Nicholas Himona - Artist  Kraków  Lilianfels  Collonges-La-Rouge  Gingerbread Houses   Cape Sounion   Delos  Wroclaw  Colonial Williamsburg  Gruyères   Strasbourg  Coventry Cathedral  The Roman Theatre at Aspendos  Turkish Carpets The Duomo of Orvieto  Rovinj  The City Walls of Dubrovnik Monaco - Snapshots   Bonifacio, Corsica  Autumn in New England USA  The Great Ocean Road  Pompeii  Didyma  Lawrence Hargrave 1850-1915 

Copyright George Repin 2017. All Rights Reserved.