I write with sincere hope that octogenarians will recall and publish indelible memories of childhood.
Wartime Malta was a treasure trove of experiences, a collection of human sufferings that delineated the tragic drama. Octogenarians should not allow exceptional moments of war to go undetected. If written down, posterity would not let them die.
Floriana had suffered the brunt of the Italian aeronautics and the German Luftwaffe from 1940 to 1943. April 1942 was the most destructive and most devastating in terms of buildings and human tragedies. Different areas were bombarded on the following days in April: 1, 2, 4 and 5 – two air raids and the Capuchins friary was destroyed on Easter Sunday; 6 and 7 – two air raids; 8, 9, 10, 12, 18 and 19 – two air raids on the feast of St Publius; 20 – two air raids; 22 – two air raids; 23 – two air raids; 24 – two air raids; 26 – two air raids; 27 and 28 – the worst day during which St Publius church was destroyed, 13 people were killed, five were seriously injured and six slightly hurt.
I was 12 in 1942. Though I ran the gauntlet on occasions, none of my escapades are worth repeating. My father used to leave home to continue digging our shelter and was injured by a bomb explosion. The family did not know what had happened to him for three days. I recorded the story in my book Reminiscences of childhood.
I recall how the pangs of hunger were the cruellest. Yet, being trapped in a claustrophobic cellar was unforgettable. The attack on HMS Illustrious was an occasion of fear. The explosions rattled the basement of the Housecraft School where all the pupils became hysterical and uncontrollable.
I also recall the long queues to the Victory Kitchen and buying bread on the black market.