Four months prior the arrival of the famed Santa Maria Convoy,
in his letter addressed to the British Governor
Of Malta on April 15th.1942,
from Buckingham Palace and his own hand,
King George V1 wrote
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"
To this day, the George Cross flies proudly on the Maltese Flag, lets not forget the patrimony of braverybrotherhood and glory handed down to us by ourforefathers
The Citation read by President Roosevelt
The citation read by President Roosevelt when he visited Malta in December 1943:"In the name of the USA I salute the Island of Malta, its people and its defenders, who, in the cause of freedom and justice and decency throughout the world, have rendered valorous service far above and beyond the call of duty.Under repeated fire from the skies Malta stood alone and unafraid in the centre of the sea, one tiny, bright flame in the darkness - a beacon of hope in the clearer days when which have come.Malta's bright story of human fortitude and courage will be read by posterity with wonder and gratitude through all the ages.What was done in this island maintains all the highest traditions of gallant men and women who from the beginning of time have lived and died to preserve the civilisation for all mankind.", (sgd) Franklin D. Roosevelt, 7 December 1943.
George Cross Award
On the 15th of April 1942, King George VI of the United Kingdom awarded the Maltese Islands the 'George Cross'; an award that is bestowed on civilians for demonstrations of bravery.
This was the worst period for the Allies during the Second World War (1939-1945) as Britain's enemies clearly appeared to have the upper hand. German planes were striking Malta - night and day - with an unimaginable amount of deadly arsenal in an attempt to annihilate this British military base that was constantly getting in the way of their naval attempts to supply Rommel's North African campaign. Malta's geographic position, wedged as it is between Italy and North Africa, as well as dividing the Mediterranean basin into east and west, put the Islands at the top of Hitler's hit-list.
Malta-based British aircraft could reach as far as Tripoli in Libya to the south, Tunisia to the west and right over German bases in Italy; on Pantelleria, Sicily and even as far as the port of Naples farther to the north. Thus, standing right on the route of Italian convoys supplying Rommel's Afrika Korps, Malta had to be demolished, if the war in the Med was to be won by the Axis powers.
At this time, military resources and food rations in Malta were practically finished. Fuel was restricted to military action and heavily rationed, the population was on the brim of starvation, and even ammunition was running out, so much that Anti-Aircraft (AA) guns could only fire a few rounds per day, then wait like sitting ducks as the enemy unleashed its fiercest on the Islands.
Italian battleships (of the Regia Marina) out-gunned the British, yet the Royal Navy was far from out-classed. The German airforce (the Luftwaffe) had superior aircraft until late in the day, when Spitfires were finally sent to Malta, and German pilots were the best ever seen in the skies, with their unnecessary daring and brute determination, but British figher pilots had no intention of yielding one bit. In fact, so important was this little colony for Great Britain and her allies that so many gallant servicemen and brave civilians from all over the Commonwealth lost their lives in the defence of these islands and running convoys to save this prime military base. Malta served as Britain's vital link between Gibraltar and Alexandria. Without Malta, the British garrison in Egypt would have been isolated and stood little chance of survival.
Also at this time, German and Italian stragegists were planning 'Operation Hercules', a sea and air invasion of the Maltese Islands, which fortunately is said to have been called off by Hitler himself - until it was too late, because the Maltese Islands finally received their vital supply of fuel, food and fire-power.On August 15th 1942, on the feast of Santa Maria, a convoy of Royal and Merchant naval 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 S. Maria, and all the men who lived and died in this and previous attempts to bring supplies to Malta.
This event also coincided with the turning point of World War Two in favour of the allied forces.
Four months prior to the arrival of the famed Santa Maria Convoy, in his letter addressed to the
British Governor of Malta, on April 15th 1942, from Buckingham Palace and in his own hand, King George VI wrote:
"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."
To this day, the 'George Cross' files proudly on the Maltese flag, lest we forget the patrimony of bravery, brotherhood and glory handed down to us by our forefathers.