February 2013 Event: The ANZACs and Malta


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Anzacs-and-MaltaAt the MHA Event for February 2013 Malta's Consul General in Victoria, Mr Charles Mifsud, was the guest speaker on the little known topic of Malta's connection with the ANZACs. Mr. Charles Mifsud had first given this talk in November last year at the Shrine of Remembrance, St Kilda Road, Melbourne.

During the two world conflicts Malta gave its valued part in defeating the enemy. The connection between Malta and ANZACs is hardly ever observed. The connection started in the First World War during the Gallipoli Campaign in 1915 and continued right until the 1950s.

MHA-Event Feb2013Malta, situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, has always held a strategic position. Malta was a British naval because of its strategic position in the Mediterranean and the good dockyard facilities that it offered.

During the Gallipoli campaign in World War I, thousands of wounded British and ANZAC soldiers were taken to Malta to recover. In fact, Malta was called the "Nurse of the Mediterranean". Some 250 ANZACS died in Malta and are buried there, mostly at the Pieta cemetery, which is only opened to the public by special permission on ANZAC day.

MHA-FBonnici-CMifsud Feb13MHA President Mrs Frances Bonnici thanking Mr Mifsud for his interesting presentation.At first the wounded soldiers were taken to Egypt, but the hospitals filled quickly and they had to find another place. Malta was chosen, though the Island was unprepared for this. Schools were converted to serve as hospitals and camp hospitals were set up too. Between July and September of 1915, around 2000 soldiers were nursed in Malta.

During WW2, the ANZACS were also linked with Malta. Malta assisted the ANZACS of the 8th Army in North Africa. They left from Malta my air and sea towards Egypt to hamper the German convoys supplying the German army. Also, there were ANZAC pilots and ships in Malta. They contributed to the defeat of the enemy on its attacks on Malta. It was an ANZAC who piloted the Sunderland which transported the George Cross medal to Malta.

Every year on ANZAC day, there is a service at the Pieta Cemetery. Among the distinguished guests, the Australian High Commissioner for Malta and the New Zealand counterpart preside over it.

 

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