Today, 15th April, Malta commemorates receiving the George Cross which is Britain’s highest Award for Civilian Courage. It is still part of our national flag yet so many Maltese do not know the full extent on why Malta received such a high honour.
Strategically, Malta was as Winston Churchill called it an “unsinkable aircraft carrier” and it was attacking the Italian and German supply convoys to North Africa. This caused for Malta to be the most bombed country in the world during the war, resulting in the Great Siege of Malta which lasted over two years between 1940 and 1942.
On the eve of the 11th of November, planes left Malta managing to sink 3 Italian convoys on their way to North Africa. This led to Mussolini’s downfall and his failure in his desire to build a fascist empire starting from the Mediterranean and North Africa. Hitler could no longer depend on Mussolini which led Hitler to continue bombing and launching never-ending everyday attacks on Malta. Despite the battering the people of Malta held on. The British Garrison nevertheless remained intact and continued attacking the German supplies to North Africa.
Malta was now running low on supplies, ammunition and food due to the constant bombing. Convoys were sent by the British but the Germans attacked the convoys in hope that Malta would starve and eventually, surrender. Only 2 of the 17 ships made it to Malta which was far from enough. Bigger convoys were sent again with a huge naval escort, still the Nazi’s attacked again. However, 5 ships out of 14 made it which was just enough for Malta to survive its hardships.
Malta was vital for the Axis to lose control over North Africa and the Mediterranean. This slowly led for Germany to lose the war and Malta almost starved to death because of it. If Malta had surrendered to the Axis forces, the Allies would not have been able to free North Africa from the Nazis, thus resulting in the Allies losing the entire war since they would not have managed to fight the Nazis in Europe either. Malta was the significant turning point for the entire war.
Don’t you ever dare forget what Malta went through especially since most children that lived through this are our grandparents and great grandparents in which some of them are still alive today. It was not that long ago.
Maltese people are again going through a traumatic time due to another attack, this time a pandemic. Even though, we’re currently bored to death and stuck at home, remember that our grandparents lived through a bigger nightmare spending two years of their childhood living underground, almost starved to death while constantly being bombarded and they still didn’t give in to Nazi’s! If our ancestors managed this, we can manage to stay home for a few months!