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78 years ago Malta was publicly presented with the George Cross
It celebrated the “heroism and devotion” our island showed during WWII.

Jillian Mallia

On this day, 78 years ago, Malta was officially presented with the George Cross for her strength and defence during the Second World War in a public ceremony following months of incessant bombings.

“To honour her brave people I award the George Cross to the Island Fortress of Malta to bear witness to a heroism and devotion that will long be famous in history.”

These words were written by none other than King George VI who acknowledged the immeasurable sacrifice and courage that our tiny island showed as it endured some of the heaviest bombings. The medal is only awarded for acts of the greatest heroism in situations of extreme danger.

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King George VI awarded the island with the medal in a letter with the above words written on 15th April 1942 to the island’s Lieutenant-General at the time, Sir William Dobbie. Sir Dobbie answered, “By God’s help Malta will not weaken but will endure until victory is won.” And endure it did.

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Malta however did not receive the award until 13th September due to the heavy bombings it experienced and after the arrival of the Santa Marija which brought not only supplies but an abundance of hope and relief. The George Cross has been a big part of our history and heritage, being added to our national flag on 28th December 1943 and remains so, even after our independence from the British in 1964.

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The text of King George VI’s letter is engraved in marble on the facade of the President’s Palace in Valletta, while the original letter can be found at the National Library’s Archives.

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To commemorate its 50th anniversary in 1992, the Siege Bell Memorial was erected in Valletta to symbolise the plight of the Maltese and all those who fought here. The memorial is visited by a multitude of people until this day.

13th September 2020


Jillian Mallia
Written by
Jillian Mallia
A book lover, writer and globetrotter who loves exploring new places and the local gems that the Maltese Islands have to offer. An avid foodie and arts fanatic, Jillian searches the island and beyond for the perfect settings to write about.

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