History

The Malta at War Museum is located at Couvre Porte, Vittoriosa (Birgu). It stands to document the great ordeal which the brave people of Malta and their defenders have endured during the dark days of the Malta Blitz (1940-43) in WW2.

Vittoriosa is Malta's old maritime city, first convent of the Knights of St. John before Valletta (1530), Great Siege Headquarters (1565) and former home to the Royal Navy (1800 – 1979). Ensconced within Dockyard Creek, it inevitably became one of the worst bombed places of the conflict with almost half of it being destroyed as a result of enemy action.

The museum is housed in an 18th century army barracks which served as a police station and air raid precautions center during the war. It sits on top of a massive underground rock-cut air raid shelter which offered refuge to hundreds of people. This shelter has been restored and forms part of the museum experience.

The MAW offers a rich collection of period artifacts and memorabilia ranging from personal items, documents, medals, uniforms and weaponry. It also features numerous period newsreels and sounds, hands-on interpretation and multilingual audio-guides.

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At this museum, one can also watch the first documentary ever made on the island 'Malta G.C.' This short film was released by the Crown Film Unit in January 1943 on the initiative of King George VI who wished all his subjects to witness with their own eyes the brave endurance that Malta was putting up in the face of impossible odds at a time when she received the George Cross for bravery from him. The film is narrated by Sir Laurence Olivier and features the purposely written 'Malta Suite' by the then King's Musician Sir Arnold Bax. Using rare film footage taken by the filming units of all three services Malta's war is chartered from Italy’s entry into the war in 1940 till the lifting of the siege in 1942. Digital copies of this film are available from the museum.

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