Reminiscences of war
When The Siren Wailed – Memories Of Wartime Gozo
Charles Bezzina (translated by Alfred Palma)
A&M Printing Ltd pp108
Gozo may not have endured the ordeal by bombing as Malta did during World War II but nevertheless it had its moments of tragedy.
During those years, a young lad, Frank Bezzina, then 15 years old, kept a detailed record of the daily life on the sister island, visiting the sites of various incidents and interviewing people.
After the war, he continued to expand his records and in 1977 published the first of a number of books on the subject, priceless records of those years. These were in Maltese.
After his death in 1996, his son Charles took on his father’s mantle and researching through his father’s extensive archives compiled and expanded his previous books in a volum-inous publication in 2000 under the title Il-Qilla tal-Gwerra Fuq Għawdex.
Mr Bezzina then interviewed various persons on their wartime experiences and published these in 2003 in a book Meta Karbet is-Sirena, the first of a series of other publications on wartime Gozo all in Maltese.
Foreign residents and visitors to the island have frequently asked for publications on Gozo during the war and now, Mr Bezzina has decided to fill the gap with an English translation of the interviews in Il-Qilla tal-Gwerra Fuq Għawdex.
He has written a very extensive introduction that reviews life in general on the island during the war.
He has collaborated with Alfred Palma who translated the English text for When The Siren Wailed – Memories of Wartime Gozo.
The publication is well illustrated with pictures of bombed sites, the portraits of some of those who died and of the wartime airfield in Gozo, about which Mr Bezzina had written a book in 2004.
With memories now faded, this publication is in a way, a timeless record of the ordeal of the population of this tiny island through the eyes of those who experienced war in all its harshness – published at a time when Gozo is a totally different world no longer isolated as then.