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Malta siege veteran's collection
A small part from a collection of personal wartime memorabilia belonging to a Malta Siege veteran 1602878 Gunner Brian Wallis Finch, 68th Heavy Anti-aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery who served in Malta from 21st April 1941 up to 5th July 1945 has been placed on temporary display at the Malta at War Museum, Vittoriosa. This collection along with other interesting items was donated by his grandson Steven Barnes of York, U.K. who also published a short history about his grandfather’s wartime exploits based on his letters sent home.
Gas Mask Display re-arranged
The gas mask display located in the second museum gallery has been rearranged to allow for more new items. This display already included some very rare items on the topic, such as an asthmatics' gas mask and another one for bed ridden patients, a gas mask filter changing machine, copies of original anti-gas booklets in Maltese; gas testing sets and other related equipment. The newest editions in this display are a set of four ultra-rare World War One period wax instructional models detailing the effects of gas attack on the human skin. These had survived the ravages of World War Two to be included in the German Federal Republic's museum of medical science till this was broken up post 1989 and were auctioned off on the international antiques market.
NEW GEORGE CROSS DISPLAY
Latest project at the Malta at War Museum, Vittoriosa by Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna - a full-scale replica of the George Cross award to Malta by King George VI as originally presented to the public when it had toured the island in 1943. This will form part of a new display about the George Cross at the same museum and which will also feature the following rare and original artefacts from the time: the first George Medal awarded to a Maltese on the first day of the war (11 June 1940); Lord Gort's car pennant which was flown on the day when he presented the George Cross to Chief-Justice George Borg on behalf of the Maltese nation at Palace Square and an original colonial Malta red ensign.
Rare George Medal donated to FWA
Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna has received by way of donation one of the first two George Medals to be awarded to a recipient in Malta during World War Two and the first ones outside Britain. The donated example was awarded to Frans Mallia, Chargeman of Labourers at H.M. Dockyard from Zurrieq. The medal was donated by the heirs of Mr Mallia and has been placed on permanent display at the Malta at War Museum at Couvre’ Porte, Vittoriosa.
On 11th June 1940, during one of the first Italian air raids on the island a bomb fell close to a light anti-aircraft gun at Corradino showering it with flying splinters and debris. In the event, a member of the crew was instantly killed and others injured. The gun was put out of action. To protect the equipment from further damage volunteers were called for to erect round it splinter plates, weighing three-quarters of a ton each. R. J. Lewis, Chargeman of Fitters and Mr. Frank Mallia, Chargeman of Labourers volunteered with their respective gangs immediately for this service and without hesitation. Mallia's exemplary coolness and his leadership inspired his gang to undertake the task which lasted ten days under incessant air attack.
On the following day these men and their gangs undertook the transport and re- erection of the gun, a task which in normal times would have taken fully four days using all available daylight. They did it in five days and three hours in spite of frequent aerial bombardments, with no protection beyond their steel helmets. They never stopped working, although bombs dropped occasionally within 100 yards.
Both men were personally recommended for the award by Vice-Admiral Malta Sir Wilbraham Ford. Its confirmation was announced in the London Gazette of 17 December 1940 and eventually presented to the recipients by H.E. the Governor of Malta Field Marshal Viscount Gort GCB, CBE, DSO & Two Bars, MVO, MC V.C. during a special investiture held at the Palace on 15th September 1943 a full week after Italy’s surrender.
Richard John Lewis
Richard John Lewis was a Pembrokeshire man and a former Pembroke Dockyard engineer, who had spent nine years away from his homeland working at HM Dockyard Malta as a chargehand of fitters. He was later singled out for high praise in March 1941 for his work on repairing the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious, which was badly damaged in air attacks in the Mediterranean.
At Pembroke Dockyard, he had worked in the engineering department, and his grandfather, Captain Childs, was at one time owner of the Hobbs Point-Neyland ferry service.
Back home he was described as an ordinary man who showed massive bravery in what were continual air raids when Malta endured more bombing than anywhere else in the world. Not much is known about him after his episode in Malta except that he lived with his wife and children at Limekilns in Fife, Scotland. He died in March 1963 a few months after Frank Mallia in Malta.
In 2008, his medal, a photograph of John Lewis and other items belonging to Mr Lewis’ daughter, the late Mrs BGM Douglass, had been presented to Pembroke Castle for museum display. These were later entrusted to Pembroke Dock’s Sunderland Trust by the Pembroke Castle Trust, which was given the medal in 2008.
Mallia and Lewis were two of the earliest awarded the medal.
The George Medal
The George Medal (GM) is the second highest civil decoration of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth after the George Cross. The GM was instituted on 24 September 1940 by King George VI to reward acts of civilian courage in the face of enemy action and brave deeds more generally.
In announcing the new award, the King said that this medal was to serve as a new mark of honour for men and women in all walks of civilian life. He proposed to give his name to it, as in the case of the George Cross (GC), which was to rank next to the Victoria Cross.
The Warrant for the GM was issued along with that of the GC on 24 January 1941, and published in the London Gazette on 31 January 1941. The first award was made to Patrick King of Shiremoor, Northumberland, an air-raid warden who rescued a blind woman from a house during an air-raid.
The original Warrant for the GM did not permit it to be awarded posthumously but this was changed in November 1977. The medal is primarily a civilian award, but it may be awarded to military personnel for gallant conduct that is not in the face of the enemy and for which purely military Honours are not normally granted.
Bars are awarded to the GM in recognition of the performance of further acts of bravery meriting the award. In undress uniform or on occasions when the medal ribbon alone is worn, a silver rosette is worn on the ribbon to indicate each bar. Recipients are entitled to the post nominal letters GM.
Approximately 2,122 medals have been awarded since its inception in 1940.
The GM consists of a circular silver medal featuring the crowned effigy of the reigning monarch on its front. The reverse shows St. George on horseback slaying the dragon on the coast of England, with the legend "THE GEORGE MEDAL" around the top edge of the medal. The ribbon is 32mm wide, crimson with five narrow blue stripes. The blue colour is taken from the George Cross ribbon.
Field Marshal Lord Gort’s personal car pennant donated to the Malta at War Museum
Lord Gort’s personal car pennant used at the presentation of the George Cross to the People of Malta on 13 September 1942 was donated to Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna for display at its Malta at War Museum at Couvre Porte, Vittoriosa. The flag belonged to the late Lt. Col L.A. Gigi Borg RMA and was presented by his daughter Ms Anna Borg-Beigel.
The flag represents the official Governor of Malta pennant used between 1943 and 1964. It measures 20 x 30cm and consists of a white circle bearing the red and white Malta shield marked with the George Cross on a blue quadrant (the colour of its ribbon) in its left corner and surrounded by a garland on the Union Flag.
The flag is mounted in a glazed wooden frame and marked “ The flag of the car of Field Marshal the Lord Gort V.C., G.C.B, D.S.O., M.V.O., M.C., Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Malta at the time of the official presentation of the George Cross to the People of Malta on 13 September 1942’.
The dating of this flag to 13 September 1942, which is well before the date of the Royal Warrant of 28 December 1943 authorising the new armorial bearing of Malta incorporating the George Cross, may well make it one of the first examples of Malta governor pennants of its kind.
donation of pilot's written accounts
The daughters of WW2 Canadian Spitfire pilot Cyril King, have this week donated to the museum, personal photographs, notes, logs and documents of their father. These give us a very clear picture of the aerial struggle over Malta during the Second World War as well as reminding us of the vital role played by Canadian troops and pilots during this landmark conflict in human history.
Re-enactors Visit the museum
anti-gas defenCe display increased
Museum gets its quality assurance seal
The Malta at War Museum has been awarded the Quality Assurance seal by the Malta Tourism Authority. This quality seal is issued by the Malta Tourism Authority to Visitor Attractions that are committed to high levels of quality, consistency and professionalism.
New back-lit story boards installed
Wartime parachute material donated
The MAW Museum has received by way of donation a parachute which had been harvested by locals to make a wedding dress in wartime. This item came along with other period items which include several tent mosquito nets and a brand new monk's habit. Parachute material was a hard sought commodity during the war given the complete lack of clothing fabric. It was used to make different garments ranging from underwear to church vestments. These items were donated by Ms Anna Jones from Sliema.