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War victims

In my tardy comment to Carmelo Brown's letter, I had mentioned that a monument commemorating all those Maltese who served (and died) while in the Royal Navy does exist and was erected by the Malta Branch of the Royal Naval Association at the Former Torpedo Depot at Pieta'/Msida.

The King George V Seamen's Memorial Hospital, now Sir Paul Boffa Hospital, was opened in 1921 to commemorate all British and Commonwealth seamen, while the building till recently occupied by the Malta Maritime Authority on the Valletta marina was also erected for a similar purpose.

The foundation stone is probably still buried on the corner beneath the extended veranda.

Just like the writer's relatives, my late father had served in the Royal Navy and spent most of the war on active service. One particular ship that he served on, HMS Protector, was hit by Italian torpedoes and lives were lost.

If he was one of those who had died, I would surely want to have him commemorated. At a time when a ship's company consisted of hundreds of men, Maltese included, the loss of any ship meant the loss of many lives. I'm sure that everyone would want them to be commemorated but can we erect a monument for every ship and its losses? With regards to the tablets that "used to list the names of Maltese naval seamen who lost their lives in World War I" that were removed when Malta became a republic, I wish that Mr Galea would quote the source of this information.

The Floriana memorial was erected in a different location than its present and inaugurated on November 11, 1938. It had tablets on three sides with the names of all the Maltese victims of World War II. All the 592 Maltese are all listed in an edition of the Government Gazette No. 8501, dated November 19, 1938.

During World War II, it escaped damage with just a few splinter hits. The government of the time decided that the monument should now commemorate the victims of both wars, civilians included but the panels were replaced by the armorial shield of Malta and the three letters of tribute. They were unveiled on December 8, 1949.

During the post-war re-alignment of the devastated St Anne Street, the memorial was moved to its present location in 1954. All this information can be found in the excellent book Malta: Blitzed But Not Beaten by the late Philip Vella and other researched publications.

The Floriana memorial stands to commemorate all the Maltese fallen, whether in uniform or civilians, of the First or Second World Wars. Lest we forget.

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