Sunday, 15 April 2012

The Maltese George Cross

Today is the 70th anniversary of the award of the George Cross to Malta. 

King George VI awarded the George Cross to Malta for its heroism in the early days of World War Two. In his message to the island's governor, King George VI said: "To honour her brave people I award the George Cross to the Island Fortress of Malta, to bear witness to a heroism and a devotion that will long be famous in history."

At the time of the George Cross award, military resources and food rations in Malta were practically finished. Fuel was restricted to military action and heavily rationed, the population was on the brink of starvation, and even ammunition was running out, so much that Anti-Aircraft (AA) guns could only fire a few rounds per day.

Italian battleships of the Regia Marina out-gunned the British, the German airforce had superior aircraft until late in the day, when Spitfires were finally sent to Malta. Also at this time, German and Italian strategists were planning a sea and air invasion of the Maltese Islands. The invasion was continuously postponed until it became too late, as the Maltese Islands finally received their vital supply of fuel, food and munitions.

On 15 August 1942, on the feast of Santa Maria, a convoy of Royal and Merchant Navy ships made port at Valletta's Grand Harbour, after completing one of the more heroic maritime episodes in recent history. To-date, this event remains commemorated in Malta in remembrance of that gift from heaven, the Convoy of Santa Maria, and all the men who lived and died in this and previous attempts to bring supplies to Malta.

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