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Thought-provoking photos of real shelters reveal what life was like in WWII Malta
It’s a sad scene…

Sarah Micallef

Most of us can’t even begin to imagine the feeling of running for our lives, scrambling with our families, friends and neighbours into a hole in the ground, as air raid sirens wail overhead. We can’t imagine the fear our parents and grandparents must have felt, trembling with anticipation for the sound of bombs as they hit the ground overhead, wondering if they’d see the light of day again.

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We can’t imagine it because we’re lucky enough not to have been around to experience it, but thanks to the remnants of wartime Malta – like several air raid shelters that still lie beneath our feet – we can come close to imagining what it must have been like.

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These photos from some of Malta’s air raid shelters that you can still visit today paint a harrowing picture. Consisting of a labyrinth of chambers roughly cut into the ground, they’re suffocating to look at.

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As ever, the Maltese would have gone out of their way to make their temporary surroundings as homey as possible, laying tiles on the ground and even hanging picture frames on the wall. After all, there’s no telling how long they’d have to remain in them at a stretch.

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The shelters were also equipped with wash basins, crockery and enamel pots and pans to help Malta’s citizens prepare food and take care of their daily needs while sheltering from the onslaught above ground.

Have you visited any of Malta’s air raid shelters? They’re a real eye-opener.

13th January 2020


Sarah Micallef
Written by
Sarah Micallef
A keen traveller with an interest in most things, Sarah loves her island home as much as she loves getting away from it, and enjoys discovering and re-discovering the gems, hidden corners and unique stories of her native Malta and Gozo.

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