Malta was fighting for her life. Waves of hundreds of bombers coming at short intervals throughout the day destroyed countless homes and made life unbearable. A much needed convoy, Malta bound, was completely wiped out, two of the ships laden with precious cargo being sunk in the harbour under the eyes of the helpless defenders.
April followed and the situation was made more critical following the success of the Italo-German armies in Africa. The invasion of Malta was taken as a matter of course. What made things worse was the acute food shortage; 260,000 souls were menaced with starvation, and countless families were without a home. In this month alone 100,000 buildings were destroyed or damaged.
In the midst of her trials Malta received a proud reward. The Secretary of State for the Colonies sent the following communication to Sir William Dobbie, Governor and Commander-in-Chief:
I have it from the King to convey to you the following message:
TO HONOUR HER BRAVE PEOPLE I AWARD THE GEORGE CROSS TO THE ISLAND FORTRESS OF MALTA TO BEAR WITNESS TO A HEROISM AND DEVOTION THAT WILL LONG BE FAMOUS IN HISTORY. George R.I. 15th April, 1942.
Some Facts: Malta during the World War II
- Population in Malta and Gozo at the beginning of the war - 270,000
- Air raids registered throughout the war over Malta - 3,343
- Total hours under Air-raids - 2,357
- Tonnes of bombs dropped on the Maltese islands - 15,000
- Civilian casualties between June 1940 and April 1944 - 1,581
- Military and Merchant Navy casualties - 7,500
- People injured - 3,780
- Convoys to Malta - 17
- Tonnes of Axis shipping sunk by Malta based submarines - 390,660
- Enemy aircraft destroyed (confirmed) - 241
British Pathé video: Malta Receives Its George Cross (1942)
Brave & Proud T-shirt. In honour to the brave of the Maltese people. more here →