The War Memorial
A War Memorialcommemorating the Maltese who lost their lives during the First World War, was unveiled on 11th November, 1938 - Armistice day - by the Governor of Malta, General Sir Charles Bonham-Carter.
The fifty-foot-high memorial, designed by Louis Naudi, takes the form of five superimposed crosses made of hard Gozo stone. The message sent by HM King George V recording Malta’s part in the Great War was reproduced on one side of the plinth, while the other three sides showed the names, in bronze letters, of the 592 Maltese who paid the supreme sacrifice.
Following WWII Government decided that the Memorial should commemorate the dead of the two Great Wars. The original panels at the base of the Memorial were replaced by tablets reproducing Malta’s armorial bearings and the text of the tributes paid to Malta by HM King George V, HM King George VI and President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
When unveiling the tablets on 8th December 1949 HRH Princess Elizabeth (now HM Queen Elizabeth II) said “...It is most fitting that those tributes should be recorded on your Cenotaph which commemorates those whose supreme sacrifice deserves all honour and glory. ...” The Prime Minister of Malta, Dr (later Sir) Paul Boffa, replied: “...Recalling with pride the role Malta has played in the cause of Freedom, it is highly befitting that on this day we pay tribute to the Service and the civilian men and women of Malta who, fighting side by side with fellow-members of the British Commonwealth, have paid with their lives that we may live and continue to enjoy our heritage; we solemnly pledge ourselves never to forget their sacrifice. …”
The Commonwealth Air Forces Memorial
After the 1939-1945 War the Air Council Committee on War Memorials presented to the Air Council their recommendations for the commemoration of those members of the Air Forces of the British Commonwealth and Empire who, while serving in or in association with the Royal Air Force, lost their lives and have no known grave. These recommendations, approved by the Air Council in February 1948, were referred to the Imperial War Graves Commission to plan and build these memorials.
The Malta memorial, built on a site generously provided by the Government of Malta, commemorates those who lost their lives while flying from bases in Austria, Italy, Sicily, the Islands of the Adriatic and the Mediterranean, Malta Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, West Africa, Yugoslavia and Gibraltar, and have no known grave.
The Memorial takes the form of a column, fifteen metres high, of travertine marble from Tivoli in the Sabine Hills near Rome, incised with a light reticulated pattern and surmounted by a gilded bronze eagle two metres thirty five centimetres high. The column stands on a circular base around which the names of the 2301 airmen are commemorated on bronze panels and are made up as follows:
Royal Air Force…………………………………………1,542
Royal Canadian Air Force……………………………….286
Royal Australian Air Force……………………………….211
Royal New Zealand Air Force…………………………….85
South African Air Force…………………………………..171
British Overseas Airways Corporation……………………..3
The central panel bears the following dedicatory inscription:
OVER THESE AND NEIGHBOURING LANDS AND SEAS THE AIRMEN
WHOSE NAMES ARE RECORDED HERE
FELL IN RAID OR SORTIE AND HAVE NO KNOWN GRAVE.
MALTA GIBRALTAR MEDITERRANEAN ADRIATIC TUNISIA SICILY ITALY YUGOSLAVIA AUSTRIA
PROPOSITI INSULA TENAX TENACES VIROS COMMEMORAT
The Latin epigram translates: An Island resolute of purpose remembers resolute men.
The Memorial was unveiled by HM Queen Elizabeth II on 3rd May 1954, in the presence of several distinguished personalities, about 500 relatives of the deceased airmen and thousands of Maltese. In a brief address Her Majesty said: "Many of you here today have, I know, come from far to Malta to join with my husband and myself in paying tribute to the fallen whose names are inscribed here. Most of you will inevitably be turning your minds back, recalling past memories and wondering, perhaps, whether their sacrifice has been in vain. To you I give this message of hope: if we show in all our dealings the same integrity of purpose and the same resolution in fulfilling it as was shown by them in the war, then surely we shall be able to extract from the dark and desperate difficulties which beset us a victory no less glorious than that which we commemorate here today ...".
The Malta Branch of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission looks after the maintenance of the Memorial.
The Siege Bell Memorial
The Siege Bell Memorial extends over a long site situated on the bastion adjacent to the Lower Barrakka Garden and overlooking the entrance to the Grand Harbour. The memorial consists of a neo-classical cupola with a bell in it and a recumbent figure on a catafalque lying before it as a tribute to some 7,000 servicemen, merchant seamen and civilians who made the ultimate sacrifice in defence of the Island.
The incipient idea for the memorial, designed by Professor Michael Sandle, was inspired by the George Cross Island Association, which was founded in 1987 by a survivor of the Malta convoys. They felt the time was more than ripe to erect a memorial worthy of the siege and relief of Malta, which had seen such an appalling loss of life. The memorial occupies an area of 2,400 square metres. It is 14.3 metres high, 10 metres wide and 19.1 metres long.
The bronze bell is over 2.13 metres high, 2.64 metres in diameter, weighs 12 tonnes and was cast by John Taylor Bellfounders, Loughborough. It is decorated with a relief of the Madonna within an aureole of flames.
The catafalque is over 6 metres long, 1.82 metres wide, weighs 4 tonnes and was cast by Morris Singer Foundry, Basingstoke. The bronze sculpture symbolically representing all the War Dead is of a draped figure on a ceremonial catafalque. This figure can be interpreted as a dead sailor, soldier, airman or civilian.
In a ceremony held on 20th May 1992, HE President Tabone said: "We have gathered today to dedicate this memorial to those who lost their lives in defence of Malta during the last war. It is a monument to valour, devotion to duty, a steadfastness of so many Maltese, British, Commonwealth and other sailors, soldiers and airmen". HM Queen Elizabeth II replied: "l am proud to share with you, Mr President, the honour of dedicating the Siege Bell Memorial on the George Cross Island".
The Government of Malta looks after the maintenance of the Memorial.