The Siege Bell War Memorial occupies the lower part of St. Christopher Bastion, facing the harbor and the town of Valletta. This WWII memorial features simple, yet symbolic design underlining a link between generations of Malta defenders. Tourists like its modest greatness that blends perfectly into the age-old environment and natural landscape.
During WWII, Malta had to go through the second siege of the island resulted from attempts of the Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy to capture this Mediterranean naval base controlled by the British Empire. Due to its important geographical position between Italy and Africa, Malta played a key role both for the Allies and Axis Powers.
The very next day after Italy declared war on Britain and France, the Italian Air Force attacked Malta, where a garrison of just 4,000 soldiers and a few old biplanes were accommodated. From 1940 to 1943 the Maltese and the British successfully defended the island and even conducted offensive military operations in the Mediterranean, but Malta suffered heavily from hunger and bombings. The island was one of the most heavily bombarded areas during WWII, and more than 7,000 soldiers and civilians were killed there. In 1942, Malta was awarded The George Cross by King George VI to appreciate heroism of its inhabitants and defenders.
In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of this award, the memorial was built and unveiled by Queen Elizabeth. It features a majestic rotunda with a heavy bronze bell decorated with an image of Madonna in flame. The base of the tower is covered by commemorative plaques, while one of the staircases leads to another pedestal, on which a bronze soldier rests, symbolizing those killed in the war. There is a metal memorial tablet saying “At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them”, and every day at noon the bell rings in memory of the war victims.
Dedicated to the tragic events, the memorial leaves a lasting impression due to its thoughtful location overlooking the harbor. The environment invites to thorough understanding of the profound significance of this memorial, at the same time allowing to enjoy the beautiful views of the sea and surrounding cityscape.
Entrance is free of charge.
Photo credits: Patrick Falzon, Peter Vanicsek, and Mike Watson on viewingmalta.com