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Guided tour of WWII defences

Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna is to hold a public lecture and a guided tour focusing on one of the least known aspects of the historic fortifications of Malta - the fixed anti-invasion defences of World War II.

The advent of aerial warfare in World War I brought about a drastic change in fortifications' building. Till that time, forts were intended to resist horizontal fire hurled at them by artillery whether from land or sea. With the industrialisation of warfare in the 19th century, military engineers were forced to evolve new forms of fortifications leading to new squat structures provided with an ever increasing bombproof cover and thicker walls. This led to forts losing much of their past romantic appearance.

Meanwhile, the first pillboxes were built in Malta during the Abyssinian Crisis of 1936 when Italy invaded Ethiopia. The pillboxes were built along parts of the coast and at vantage points as a measure against a potential Italian invasion from the sea. However, the bulk of these structures were built during WWII.

In the early 1990s FWA embarked on a public awareness drive meant to better study and preserve these structures. The illustrated lecture is being held at the newly refurbished FWA headquarters at Notre Dame Gate (also known as Zabbar Gate), Vittoriosa, on Wednesday at 6.15 p.m. It will be delivered in English by FWA chairman Mario Farrugia. Entrance is free.

The same speaker will be guiding a tour along various examples of wartime fixed defences the following day, Thursday, between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. The tour will assemble in front of The Phoenicia Hotel in Floriana at 2 p.m. Organised transport will be provided.

A fee of Lm2.75 inclusive of refreshments will be charged to FWA members (children under 16 pay Lm1.50), non-members Lm3.50 and Lm2 respectively.

Bookings can be made on tel. 2180 0992, 2180 9713, 9987 4153 or e-mail info@wirtartna.org.

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