"Photo's of Malta from the 1950's"
Maltese Dghasa

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An old tinted photo of a Dghajsa in the Grand Harbour

George Cross award Malta

In August of 1942 the British played their last card, in a desperate attempt to break the blockade of Malta and transfuse life back into the island. Of all the many convoys that set sail during the war, operation PEDESTAL would go down as one of the most daring adventures in naval history, yet it was a calculated gamble that had to pay off. Failure on the part of the British would have meant certain surrender of the islands and in fact by August of 1942 Malta was at her lowest ebb. Attempts by other convoys to make the run from Gibraltar had failed miserably, the last one being in June of that year, so that plans were already in place for the negotiated surrender of the islands, along with a request for the fair treatment of the Maltese people. The thought of such an eventuality was unthinkable, yet the writing was on the wall and rations were cut even further in an attempt to delay that awful moment.

On August the 10th, 14 merchantmen, one being the OHIO, sailed from Gibraltar under the protection of 49 warships. The story of the OHIO is a story of tenacity, and the undying will of mans desire to win, for this tanker carried 11,500 tonnes of petrol, diesel fuel and kerosene and the most precious thing of all, the hopes and desires of the Maltese people. By August the 11th the U-boat U73 had sunk the aircraft carrier EAGLE, and the first of the air attacks from Sardinia had been beaten off, but it was an omen of what was yet to come. On the 12th, the carrier INDOMITABLE was disabled and the convoy again sustained heavy damage from air attacks. The 13th, and the convoy was reduced to 3 ships, with 2 damaged and separated from the main force, but thankfully on the 14th, 3 ships arrived in Malta and on the 15th the word spread throughout the island that the OHIO was coming into port. For those who turned out to watch, her entrance was both heroic and tragic as she limped home like a warrior from the fight, supported by two comrades in arms, the destroyers LEDBURY and PENN, with the minesweeper RYE assisting with the tow. The OHIO was virtually strapped between the destroyers and for the past 48 hours this group had battled the elements and the enemy, finally bringing her into Valletta. During that awful run she had sustained a torpedo hit, a Ju 88 crashing into her forecastle and a Stuka dive bomber smashing into the poop deck, yet she had made it and provided the island with an important lease on life. Sadly the OHIO's wounds were too deep for any refit and she ended her days on the sea range, being used for gunnery practice. It was later learned that the island could have continued on until December, but the outcome of PEDESTAL, was pivotal at that stage of the war in the Middle-East. Montgomery made rapid advances against Rommel and with his successes came other convoys, convoys like STONEAGE that left from Port Said the following November and was in fact the added boost that the island needed. Malta had survived and a grateful King bestowed the George Cross on Malta and her citizens, it was a title that she kept (Malta G.C.) until independence in 1961.

This excerpt from a book on Malta and Suez (The Leighton Report) shows the tenacity and determination of the Maltese people to stand and fight, something they have done for thousands of years. They are probably the greatest survivors on the face of earth, having stood the onslaught of every major power throughout the ages, from the Greeks, to the Romans and the Phoenicians, to the Turks the French and the British and finally the Nazi's. For their courage under fire the Maltese people received the George Cross from a grateful King George in April of 1942.

The photographs on this page were taken in the 1950's and are the sole property of the owner of the website. They are displayed for the enjoyment of all visitors and we hope you enjoy looking through them.

David sheba@execulink.com

Madonna on street

Between the villages of Mqabba and Siggiewi was this small shrine high up on the corner of an old building
The story goes that there are 365 churches on the island of Malta and this is one of the grandest. St Paul's Anglican Cathedral with its 63 metre spire is located in Independence Square in Valletta and was built in 1844.
The Auberge d'Allemagne was demolished to provide space for the cathedral, and is the only major non-military edifice built by the British during their occupation. It was paid for by Queen Adelaide (Queen Victoria's Aunt and King William IV's widow) while she was convalescing in Malta.

St Pauls Valetta


The great dome of Mosta was completed in 1860 and built to imitate the Pantheon in Rome. It is the third largest unsupported church dome in Europe and managed to survive the Second World War when a bomb pierced through the dome during mass, but failed to explode upon impact, an event which is now regarded as a miraculous intervention. A replica of the 200kg bomb is on display in the sacristy. Mosta is associated with several legends that have inspired the building of small devotional chapels: the cave chapel of St Paul the Hermit in a picturesque valley; and the Chapel of Our Lady of Hope, built as thanksgiving for the safety of a local girl attacked by pirates raiding inland from Salina Bay.
Assumption of our Lady church in the small village of Mqabba was severely damaged during WWII and the restoration lasted until 1947.

Mqabba church

Alleyway in Mqabba

Here is another view of the same church, framed on either side by the narrow street leading to its front door.
The church of St Nicholas in Siggiewi one summers evening. The village was preparing for a Festa and some of the decorations can be seen.

As you walk through the village of Siġġiewi, you have to understand that it was already an established community as far back as the 14th century. On December 30, 1797, after a formal request by Don Salvatore Curso on behalf of his parishioners, the Grand Master Ferdinand Von Hompesch, instituted the village as a city calling it by his name, "Cittą Ferdinand"

Siggiewi on a summers evening 1954


Kingsway, now Republic street Valletta

The photo on the left was taken from the top of the old main gateway into the city, looking down what was in those days the Kingsway, now Republic Street. This scene was normal for a summers evening, with people from all over the island descending upon Valletta to shop or just stand in small groups and talk to old friends, while others just window shopped. This part of the entrance has changed drastically, with a large piazza now the first thing you see as you enter through the gates. I won't go into the gate itself, enough to say that it is a very poorly designed and does not present this wonderful city in the best light. 
Merchant Street Valletta and its series of covered balconies where those inside can peer out at the pedestrians below. A classic Maltese scene.

Merchant street



This photo was taken just as you enter Sliema from Msida. I didn't get a chance to go back and check this out the last time I was there, but I am sure I could see the location from the bus running between Valletta and Sliema.
I don't believe any of these buildings still stand along the sea front in Sliema, so it is a nice historical record of what was. Now the "Strand" is full of hotels, guest houses etc as the island has become very commercialized, but I have to confess the Maltese have done it very well.

Old Sliema


Clock in Barracca Gardens

The clock in Upper Baracca gardens, Valletta. The gardens date back to the 1661 when they were part of a Knights grounds.
The building in the foreground with pennants and flags flying was the HQ for the Royal Navy Command Centre Mediterranean Fleet. The building at the top right is Upper Baracca gardens

Med Fleet


Haggar Qimm

Hagar Qim is one of the oldest man made structures on the face of earth, with a history going back 5,000 years. Made from local limestone it has suffered quite badly from millennia of severe weather conditions and the elements. This is one of many temples on Malta and Gozo. One of the most interesting places has to be the area known as "Clapham Junction" where there are tracks cut into the ground, resembling railway lines. No-one is really sure how these came about and theories abound. Well worth a trip.   

During the mid 1950's Malta was once again turned into a massive military base. Here is a Valiant
bomber of the RAF being loaded with armament to be dropped on Egyptian bases (November 5th 1956)


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Page 2 Valletta

Page 3. Day trip to Sicily and Mt Etna

Page 4 boat trips

Page 5 Marsaxlok etc