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One bomb killed nine in this family. Did you know them?

Three were saved by bedposts when a roof collapsed.

Ms Sprunt’s grandmother Jane (Joan) Spiteri

Ms Sprunt’s grandmother Jane (Joan) Spiteri

Amber Sprunt is in Malta looking for her family. Photo: Matthew MirabelliAmber Sprunt is in Malta looking for her family. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

The descendent of a family nearly wiped out during an air raid on Stuart Street in Gżira 76 years ago has flown from Australia looking for her relatives.

Amber Sprunt, 40, is spending a month in Malta looking for any distant relatives who remember the Spiteri family, which lost nine members on that fateful night of 1942. She believes speaking to the Times of Malta could be her last chance for locating any cousins before the generation that remembers or knows the family connection dies out. 

“I would love to find family and to learn more about my late grandma, who survived the bombing. Sadly you don’t think about these things until it is too late,” she said, adding that she would like to make a feature film on a World War II civilian story through her grandmother’s eyes.

Equipped with black and white photos and a list of addresses, she has been knocking on doors, looking for any threads that might lead her to long-lost family.

“My relatives migrated to Australia in 1957, but there’s a good chance that people who knew them will remember, even all this time afterwards, because my family has a tragic story,” she said.

Jane Spiteri and Reg Thompson’s wedding in Malta, c. 1940Jane Spiteri and Reg Thompson’s wedding in Malta, c. 1940

“Like a handful of other families, almost all of my grandmother’s immediate family was wiped out with the dropping of a bomb.”

Her grandmother Jane (Joan), who was the eldest of 11 children and aged 22 at the time, lost her father, Dominic, and eight siblings that night.

Jane was sleeping in her parents’ bed with her firstborn, Leo, and her mother, Carmela Spiteri, née Busuttil.

It is believed that the three were saved by the bedposts when the house collapsed.

Her father had probably given up his spot in the bed since she had just had Leo. At the time, Jane was married to John Reginald Thompson, who was a British submariner and not in the house that night. Their two-week-old infant, who survived the bombing, sadly died two months later.

Mr Thompson had not been there for the birth of the infant and was, in fact, presumed dead. He was not seen again until 1945 – a beautiful love story on a backdrop of tragedy, Ms Sprunt says.

There’s a good chance people will remember, even all this time afterwards, because my family has a tragic story

Joan passed away in December 2016, and that is when Ms Sprunt set off looking for more information.  

In her research she found several photos, as well as addresses her relatives had occupied. They are 197, Republic Street, Valletta (pre-1941); and in Gżira, 30, Stuart Street (1941-42); Bear House, Fleet Street (1942), 74, Belvedere Lane (1943) and 1, Cameron Street (1945 on).

Her mother, Pat, was born in Gżira in 1954, and Ms Sprunt has just learnt that at the time they lived in Pace Flats, Flat 1, Kubrit Street. Her grandmother Carmela moved back to Malta in 1977 and died in 1982 at 42, St Francis Street, Floriana. 

Ms Sprunt believes that when Carmela left her family in Australia, she moved to or near a family in Floriana.

Her search has taken her to the Gżira parish, the public registry in Valletta, the national archives in Rabat, the Addolorata Cemetery and a Floriana home for the elderly, among others. Anyone who has any leads is asked to contact Ms Sprunt on aspruntster@gmail.com.

Jane’s mother, Carmela “Carrie” Spiteri, c. 1950, and her father, Dominic, c. 1939. Photos provided by Amber SpruntJane’s mother, Carmela “Carrie” Spiteri, c. 1950, and her father, Dominic, c. 1939. Photos provided by Amber Sprunt

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