Farsons Foundation brings World War II to the National Archives
A digital copy of 500 original photos and two-and-a-half hours of film footage were recently donated to Malta for posterity. The owner of the material is Stan Fraser, a British World War II veteran, who was stationed in Malta between 1941 and 1943.
The donation follows the first exhibition of selections of Stan Fraser's photo and film collection during Notte Bianca - Lejl Imdawwal, last October.
The World War II collection was digitally compiled for the National Archives with the generous spon-sorship of the Farsons Foundation. Project funding covered the costs of collecting the material from Wales, the cataloguing of photos and films as well as the digitisation of all materials, which was carried out in Germany.
A CD package of the collection was produced by Munich-based, educational media producer, Veronica Galea, on whose initiative the Fraser Collection was brought to Malta. The digital copy of the Fraser Collection includes a brief biography of Fraser, together with useful reference descriptions of the collection.
Fraser's amateur photography provides a documentary account of the life of a gunner in the Royal Artillery, while the 8 mm films offer a different perspective to the standard British propaganda newsreel films of the day, including both live scenes of aerial bombardment and views of civilian life in Malta and Gozo. The photos and films as well as his recently published wartime journals (The Guns of Ħaġar Qim published by Wise Owl), relate the colourful experiences of a British soldier during wartime.
Arriving in Grand Harbour in July 1941, at the age of 26, Fraser was a good soldier and a man with leadership qualites. It was his passion for photography, however, that almost earned him a court martial and delayed his commission till the end of the war.
Despite the shortage of film supplies, he recorded some 80 minutes of film, and over 500 photos were taken in Malta and Gozo from July 1941 till he set sail for Alexandria with his regiment in December 1943.
In 1944, he filmed his tour of duty in Egypt and Palestine and earlier in 1940 he documented the retreat to Dunkirk of the British Expeditionary Force in Belgium. In Europe in 1945, he filmed scenes of Germany in ruins as he escorted prisoners of war back to their home country. The Fraser Collection at the National Archives will present historians and the public with a candid view of the wartime years in Malta and elsewhere.
Acknowledgement of Fraser's donation to the National Archives has been made at the highest level. Recently, he received a letter of thanks for the donation from Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi.
Today, Fraser lives in North Wales with his wife Peggy. The Fraser Photo and Film Collection is Fraser's second donation to Malta. The first took place 15 years ago when he presented four World War II, 3.7-inch heavy anti-aircraft guns to President Emeritus Ċensu Tabone, in memory of all who died in Malta during World War II.
During a brief presentation at the National Archives, Brian Gera, chairman of the Farsons Foundation, was present as Ms Galea handed over the digital Fraser Collection to National Archivist Charles Farrugia.