Anzac Day 2017 in Malta
The Australian High Commission held its annual Anzac commemoration at Malta’s Pieta Cemetery, where the largest number of Anzacs on the island are buried.
Anzac day has been commemorated in Malta since 1916. Malta played a significant role in WWI with around 800 Maltese directly supporting the Gallipoli campaign. The thousands of sick and wounded allied servicemen who were evacuated to and treated in Malta resulted in the country becoming known as ‘The Nurse of the Mediterranean’. There are 202 members of the Australian Imperial Force and 72 members of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force buried on the island. Since 1979, Anzac day has been commemorated at Pieta Military Cemetery as it contains the highest number of WWI Anzac graves in the island.
This year there were hundreds in attendance at the commemoration and wreath laying ceremony, including the President of Malta, Marie-Louse Coleiro Preca, the Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties Helena Dalli and many members of the diplomatic corps. The Australian High Commissioner, H.E. Ms Julienne Hince delivered the commemorative address paying tribute to service personnel, from fallen Anzacs to those on present day deployments, while making reference to the rich Anzac history in Malta and the resulting bond between our two countries. Remarks were also given by the New Zealand Honorary Consul, Ms Jill Camilleri, and the Turkish Ambassador, H.E. Mr Reha Keskintepe. The event was supported by relevant associations (such as St George Cross in its many guises) and organisations from the Scouts and Sea Cadets to the Armed Forces of Malta, and was covered by TVM, Malta’s national broadcaster.
Notable guests included Mr Christiaan Durrant, retired RAAF Squadron Leader who gave a reading of ‘In Flanders Field’ and Mr John ‘Jethro’ Thompson OAM. Mr Thompson – born in Malta to a Maltese mother and British father – travelled to Malta this year to lay a wreath on behalf of Stephens RSLA Sub Branch (QLD) on the grave of Anzac Trooper Marshall Jury, 2nd Light Horse Regiment AIF, who fought at Gallipoli and died of his wounds in Malta on 25 August, 1915. Mr Thompson also presented a plaque from Stephens RSL to the Australian High Commissioner in appreciation of our annual efforts organising the Anzac ceremony. On hearing his life story, we felt the award should have been in the other direction. Thompson arrived in Australia at 11 years old and joined the Australian Army just eight years later in 1964. In 1967 he was posted to Vietnam, where he lost an arm and a leg in a minefield while protecting the Australian Army Taskforce Base at Nui Dat. Mr Thompson has since worked servicing veterans, their widows and their children while raising his own five children as a single father after losing his ex-wife at a young age to cancer. Mr Thompson now re-married and with 7 children, has been awarded an OAM as well as receiving an Australia Day Achievement Award for his work assisting veterans. It was an honour to host him at this year’s Anzac commemoration.
ANZAC Art Exhibition
This year the Australian High Commission, in collaboration with the Turkish embassy, had also organised an Anzac art exhibition which ran at the Parliament of Malta from 20th April – 30th April. The exhibition served as both a commemoration of our fallen soldiers as well as a celebration of bilateral relations between our two nations. Two artists displayed their work, Australian-Maltese artist Mr Ray Agius who specialises in technical and military art and Turkish artist Mr Hikmet Cetinkaya who is aptly known as ‘The Poppy Man’ for painting primarily poppies. The opening of the exhibition on 20th April was well attended by Ambassadors, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, The Hon Dr George Vella and Speaker of the House, Anglu Farrugia as well as other invited guests. The opening was available for streaming through the Parliament of Malta’s website.
The Gallipoli Connection
Anzac Day has been commemorated in Malta since 1916. Since 1979 the service has been held at the Pietà Military Cemetery as it contains the highest number of ANZAC war graves in Malta.
The Cemetery is located in Triq Id-Duluri (entrance at the junction of Triq Id-Duluri and Triq Santa Monika) Pietà.
Malta played a significant role in and during the Gallipoli Campaign with many Australians and New Zealand casualties being evacuated to Malta for medical treatment. From the spring of 1915, hospitals and convalescent camps were established on the islands of Malta and Gozo, to deal with the many thousands of sick and wounded from the Gallipoli and Salonika campaigns. Despite the courageous efforts of the doctors and medical staff, some of the casualties could not be saved and they were buried on Malta. Of those buried on Malta there were 202 Australian and 72 New Zealanders.
The Commonwealth war burials in Malta are unlike those found anywhere else. Many joint and collective burials were made as graves had to be cut into the rock underlying the island\'s shallow earth crust. These graves are usually marked by flat tablets that could take several inscriptions and, for the sake of uniformity; the same type of marker was used for single graves.
Events and Places to Visit
To mark the 100th Anniversary of ANZAC a number of organisations and associations have been setting up displays, or conducting events leading up to and around 25 April.
The 'ANZAC Experience in Malta' Self Guided Tours
The 'ANZAC Experience in Malta' is a series of four individual self-guided tours to the principal sites associated with ANZAC personnel; mainly during the First World War. The tours detail where wounded ANZACs convalesced, were entertained and hospitalised, and the various final resting places of those service personnel who lost their lives. Also detailed are various other points of interest; places where both recovering and off duty service personnel may have visited.
The tours differ in length with certain tours requiring a vehicle. The tours vary in how they can be followed: either circularly – ending where they began; or in a linear fashion. A map for each specific tour is provided within the guide.
The tours can be downloaded in PDF format by clicking on the below links.
Tour 1: Arrival files/mlta/one ANZAC experience - Arrival.pdf
Tour 2: Healing files/mlta/02 ANZAC experience - Healing.pdf
Tour 3: Recovery files/mlta/03 ANZAC experience - Recovery.pdf
Tour 4: Departure files/mlta/04 ANZAC experience - Departure.pdf
The tours are also available by clicking on the following link: www.travelmalta.com/anzacs.html.
Anzac Day Centenary Commemorative Service 2015
To mark the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign, a remembrance service, co-hosted by the Australian High Commission and New Zealand Honorary Consul, was held at the Pietá Military cemetery to commemorate the service personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Gallipoli campaign, and to mark 100 years of service and sacrifice by Australian and New Zealand personnel in all subsequent military campaigns and peace keeping operations.
The audience who came to offer their respects this year included members of the public who have a personal connection with the Gallipoli campaign. Retired Major Henry Gatt was one such guest whose father Captain Alfred Gatt was awarded the Military Cross for service at Gallipoli with the Royal Malta Artillery.
Delivering this year’s Anzac Commemorative Address was Judge Peter Zahra of the New South Wales District Court. Judge Zahra is the most senior Justice in Australia of Maltese Heritage. Continuing the Australian-Maltese connection, the poem ‘In Flanders Field’ was read by Mr. Anthony Micallef, president of the locally based ex-pat community group ‘The Aussie’s Association’.
This year also witnessed significant numbers participating in the wreath laying service, with wreaths being laid from The President of Malta, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, as well as members of the international diplomatic corps. Numerous community groups and associations also laid wreaths on behalf of their respective associations with many also participating in the service by providing standard bearers. A family from Sydney also laid flowers in memory of their relative buried at the Pietá Military Cemetery.
Following the service, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) unveiled two information panels - one in Maltese and one in English - detailing the cemetery’s history and connection with the Gallipoli campaign. The inauguration of the information panels was supported by Her Excellency, Mrs Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, The President of Malta. The CWCG Area Director, Mr David Symons, gave a short speech explaining how the panels integrate with CWGC’s projects elsewhere.
The 2015 Anzac Day Commemorative Service received the continued support and assistance by many organisations and individuals including ceremonial support and prayer lead by Fr Meli Chaplain of the Armed Forces of Malta, Master of Ceremonies Mrs Janette Camilleri-Dawes, the Choir Coro Bel Canto, bagpipes by Mr. Mario Farrugia, First Aid support from the St John’s Association, an Honour Guard by both the Sea Cadets and St Aloysius College Scout Association, and the assistance of the Saillard family with programs. The Australian High Commission would like to thank all those who attended this year’s service, and is grateful to all those who participated and assisted in making the service a success.
Royal Australian Navy’s Visits to Malta
Two ships of the Royal Australian Navy’s fleet, HMAS Anzac and STS Young Endeavour, made official visits to Malta from 11 to 15 May as part of the Anzac centenary commemorations.
With the ship’s helicopter launched and in full support, the frigate HMAS Anzac, currently midday way through her NORTHERN TRIDENT 2015 deployment, was welcomed into the Grand Harbour with a full naval salute from the Upper Barrakka saluting battery; making for an impressive entrance. The STS Young Endeavour sailed in behind HMAS Anzac.
HMAS Anzac departed Sydney in March 2015, and has transited the Southern Ocean, Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and Suez Canal before arriving in the Mediterranean Sea. During the five month deployment, the ship has represented Australia at Centenary of Anzac commemorative events in the Sea of Marmara, Cape Helles, Gallipoli and Italy, and continued to do so during her stay in Malta where members of the ship’s company participated in a commemorative service at the Capuccini Naval Cemetery, Kalkara, where two sailors are among the 27 Australian service personnel buried at the cemetery.
As part of her visit to Valletta, together with the Australian High Commission, HMAS Anzac co-hosted an official reception whilst HMAS Anzac’s Commanding Officer, Commander Belinda Wood RAN, also hosted a mentoring session with female members of the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM).
“Before arriving at Valletta, Anzac has proudly represented Australia at major Centenary of Anzac commemorative events across the region,” Commander Wood said.
“It is significant that we are able to visit the Capuccini Naval Cemetery where Australian Navy sailors are buried.
“Australia has a significant population of Maltese descent, and we are proud to be able to represent the Australian people during this visit.
“It is a special privilege for me to be able to work with Maltese women during our visit, and our crew looks forward to being able to learn about the Maltese culture,” she said. Commander Wood hosted an afternoon tea for female members of the AFM as part of the official program of activities
Elsewhere, HMAS Anzac’s soccer team also played an 11-a-side game against the AFM’s team, which unfortunately for the visiting Australians, resulted in a significant loss to the AFM side. Service personnel from both sides then enjoyed the opportunity to socialise with each other during a post-game BBQ at Luqa Barracks.
During her time alongside, HMAS Anzac played host to a small variety of association groups who via contact with the Australian High Commission were able to arrange a small guided tour of the vessel and learn more about her role, deployment and crew.
Similarly, STS Young Endeavour, Australia’s sail training flagship, currently midway through a ‘round the world’ voyage conducted an official visit to Grand Harbour Marina in Vittoriaso after participating in the centenary of Anzac commemorations at Gallipoli cove. To mark the voyage to Malta, when the ship left Turkey it had been joined by a young Maltese citizen, Stefan Vella, a trainee with Malta Sail Training Association (MSTA). The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Gavin Dawe RAN, said “that the crew’s excitement and anticipation leading up to the visit to Malta was added to by Stefan’s daily briefings on the highlights of the Maltese Islands”.
During her stay at the Grand Harbour Marina, the ship co-hosted with the MSTA a ‘Sundowners’ reception to showcase both the vessel and the ‘World Voyagers’ crew who have been learning the rigours of sail training whilst on-board. Supported by the Australian High Commission, the reception also promoted the work of MSTA which is seeking to replicate the Young Endeavour sail training model for Malta.
STS Young Endeavour is operated by the Royal Australian Navy with the associated sail training program managed by the non-profit organisation, Young Endeavour Youth Scheme, which provides young Australians with a unique, challenging and inspirational experience at sea. Voyages increase self-awareness, develop teamwork and leadership skills and create a strong sense of community responsibility amongst members of the youth crew.
Since 1998, the Scheme, in partnership with the Australian Government and the Royal Australian Navy, has provided challenging training voyages for over 12,000 young Australians aboard Young Endeavour.
Constructed in the UK in 1986, the ship was a gift from the United Kingdom to the Government and people of Australia to mark the Bicentenary in 1988 and is a replica of Captain Cook’s HMS Endeavour.
Further details of the Young Endeavour Youth Scheme and STS Young Endeavour can be found at: http://www.youngendeavour.gov.au/site/
To find out more about the role, ships and personnel of the Royal Australian Navy follow: www.navy.gov.au/
Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Cemeteries and Memorials
All of the cemeteries listed below contain graves from both world wars:
By clicking on the name of the cemetery it will link you to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission\'s information page that will provide you with more information about the cemetery and location.
Hospitals and Convalescent Camps
To cater for the over 135,000 sick and wounded from the Gallipoli and Salonika campaigns there were numerous hospitals and convalescent Camps throughout Malta and Gozo. The Australian and New Zealander soldiers were treated in various hospitals and convalescent camps. Listed below are but a few of the many hospitals and convalescent camp that were on Malta to treat the sick and wounded.
The Station Hospital which is now the Mediterranean Conference Centre located at Mediterranean St, Il-Belt Valletta. Tours are conducted through this Centre by the Malta Experience.
Lazzaretto Hospital on Manoel Island can still be viewed from any of the tour boats conducting the harbour cruises from Sliema.
The Bavière Hospital was situated in the Auberge de Bavière. The Auberge de Bavière has an ancient and honourable history, having been the headquarters of the Anglo-Bavarian Knights of St. John located at San Bastjan, Valletta. It now houses the main offices of the GPD, including the Director General\'s Office, the Finance & Administration Directorate, The Estate Management Directorate, the Land Directorate and the Joint Office Directorate.
St. Elmo Hospital
The St. Elmo Hospital was previously a government school that was converted in to a hospital. St. Elmo specialised as a surgical hospital. The hospital was located at Fort St. Elmo at the north end of the Grand Harbour. It was well ventilated and overlooked the breakwater.
Fort Chambray Hospital Gozo
The Fort Chambray Hospital served as an excellent Convalescent Depot (camp) during the First World War, relieving the crowded camps on Malta.
The hospital was commissioned in 1912. It was used during World War I to hold many of injured Australian and New Zealand troops from the Gallipoli landings. It was expanded enormously during the Second World War.
In the 1950s it was renamed the David Bruce Royal Naval Hospital after the doctor who discovered the root cause of Malta fever, or Brucellosis. It has since been converted to a state secondary school, named after Sir Temi Zammit, part of St Nicholas College.
The Cottonera Hospital is now St Edward’s College providing an excellent all round education, including an IB 6th Form, to its students and also very proud of its heritage as the Cottonera Hospital.
Visit the beautiful grounds of St Edward’s College and get a feel of what it may have been like as an Australian or New Zealand soldier to have been a patient at the Cottonera Hospital during the First World War. St Edward’s College have also set up a permanent display of the history of the College when it was known as the Cottonera Hospital.
St Edward’s College is located in Triq Dan Dwardu, Birgu (Citta Vittoriosa) Cottonera.
Ghajn Tuffieha Camp Hospital
Ghajn Tuffieha is situated 10 miles directly west of Valletta in a charming valley near the sea with hills on either side. Ghajn Tuffieha had already been used as a camp in peace time, partly by the army and partly by the navy, being in great request as a summer holiday resort both by officers and men. There is abundant room for exercise and games of every description; the bathing facilities are unrivalled, and the summer heat is greatly tempered by a cool breeze; in fact Ghajn Tuffieha was eminently suitable for making men, softened by wounds or sickness, hard and fit for service. The area is still a very popular area for tourists; there are numerous walking tracks, and swimming and other water sports may be enjoyed from the sandy beaches in Golden Bay.
The area around Pembroke had a number of convalescent camps such as All Saints, St Paul\'s, and Spinola Camp. Australia Hall was built after the sum of £2,000 (pounds) was raised through donations by the Australian Branch of the Red Cross, at the time, to provide a place of amusement and social activities. Australia Hall was used for shows for the Forces between the wars and also during the Second World War.
Other Events/Displays and Locations:
Heritage Malta is the national agency for museums, conservation practice and cultural heritage. Heritage Malta is committed to bring culture closer to the people. The Head Office of Heritage Malta is located in the Ex Royal Naval Hospital which is located at Triq Marina, Kalkara. For more information about Heritage Malta and the museums and sites visit http://heritagemalta.org/
The National War Museum which is managed by Heritage Malta has a collection on display which focuses on the two World Wars (1914-18 and 1939-45). The National War Museum is located in the building known as the Old Drill Hall of Lower Fort St Elmo, Valletta http://heritagemalta.org/museums-sites/national-war-museum/.
Malta is renown for its maritime history and had its first encounter with an Australian war ship when HMVS Cerberus, under the command of Lieutenant William Panter, visited Malta on its maiden voyage to Australia.
An annual seminar will be hosted by the Maritime Museum with the support of Heritage Malta and Friends of the Maritime Museum titled: 'Episodes from the Great War’.
Further details regarding the seminar and the museum may be found on the following link Malta Maritime Museum,
The Malta Aviation Museum
The Malta Aviation Museum is established in three hangars in the former RAF Ta’Qali Aerodrome. The Malta Aviation Museum Foundation is a voluntary, non-profit organisation with the objective to create a display of unique exhibits related to Malta’s rich aviation history. The Museum has a display showing the unique involvement of the RAAF’s involvement in Malta’s aviation history.
The National Library
The National Library of Malta is the national repository of information, holding precious historical archives and collections as well as architecturally being a cultural asset. The National Library holds a number of significant collections, such as a small but interesting collection of sixty incunabula, the Melitensia collection comprising of published material in the form of books, pamphlets, newspapers, journals and single sheet items, as well as audio and visual recordings by Maltese authors, or on any subject related to the Maltese Islands. The National Library also conserves the Archives of the Order of Malta with the earliest document dating back to 1107.
Find out what else is happening at the National Library via their Facebook page.
The Malta National Library is located at 36 Old Treasury Street Valletta.
St Andrew\'s Scots Church
St Andrew’s Scots Church in Valletta has two stained glass windows representing Christ the Light and Christ the Good Shepherd. These windows were dedicated at the Methodist Church in Floriana in 1921. There were a gift of Australian and New Zealand Methodists as a memorial to their compatriots who died of the wounds they suffered in the Gallipoli campaign and lie buried in Malta. In 1974, the Methodist Church in Floriana closed down and the windows were taken to St Andrew’s as part of the restoration scheme for the church.
The Malta Memorial
The Malta Memorial is a commemorative war memorial monument in the vicinity of Floriana. It is dedicated to those men and women of the Commonwealth Air Forces who lost their lives in the various Second World War air battles and engagements around the Mediterranean and who have no known grave. More than 2,300 airmen, including 211 members of the Royal Australian Air Force, died in raids and sorties over and around Malta. The Memorial consists of a column, 50 feet high, surmounted by a bronze gilded eagle around eight feet in height, and is set on a circular base on which the names are inscribed on a bronze panel.
The inscription at the bottom of the bronze panel in memoriam of these men and women reads as follows:
“OVER THESE AND NEIGHBOURING LANDS AND SEAS THE AIRMEN WHOSE NAMES ARE RECORDED HERE FELL IN RAID OR SORTIE AND HAVE NO KNOWN GRAVE MALTA GIBRALTAR MEDITERRANEAN ADRIATIC TUNISIA SICILY ITALY YUGOSLAVIA AUSTRIA PROPOSITI INSULA TENAX TENACES VIROS COMMEMORAT”
Re-enactment of the Awarding of the George Cross to Malta
‘To honour the 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'.
This proclamation was issued by King George VI, on 15 April, 1942, to honour the people of Malta. The honour bestowed was a sign of appreciation by the British Monarchy for the bravery and tenacity that was being shown by the Maltese people during the darkest moments of World War II.
The actual George Cross medal was brought over to Malta by Lord Viscount Gort, VC., who had just been appointed and sent to Malta as Governor and Commander-In-Chief. It was presented to the people of Malta during a ceremony that was held on 13 September in St George\'s Square, Valletta. Chief Justice Sir George Borg received the medal on behalf of the Maltese nation.
Each year on April 15 the day of the anniversary of the Maltese George Cross, the Malta Tourism Authority presents a commemorative celebration recalling the historic event.
A ceremonial re-enactment is held in St George’s Square, Valletta reviving this landmark episode in Maltese history. The re-enactment includes the participation of the Armed Forces of Malta, the Malta Police Force and their musical bands, together with several talented actors from the In Guardia Unit of the MTA, Malta Command WW2 Living History Group all dressed as they were in 1942.
Admission for the event is free. For more information on this and other events the Malta Tourism Authority web site http://www.mta.com.mt/
Discovering Anzacs-uncover the personal stories
The Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC launched on 28 October 2014 a joint project by the National Archives of Australia and Archives New Zealand that includes digitised service dossiers of every Australian and New Zealander who served in World War I as well as many from the Boer war, creating a unique online profile for each. The website of the database is http://mappingouranzacs.naa.gov.au/
The Department of Veteran Affairs has launched a website, called the Anzac Portal, which provides information and rescources about the Anzac Centenary, the First World War, and all conflicts that Australians have served in from the Boer War to the present day.
The portal provides educational, historical and events information to support a greater understanding and awareness of the Anzac Centenary and includes:
- Classroom ready learning activities
- Australian wartime history publications and websites
- Veterans\' interviews
- Anzac Day and Remembrance Day posters
- An interactive Victoria Cross map
- Links to a range of government, cultural institutions and veteran Anzac centenary commemorative programs
- Information on events over the 2014-2018 period
The Anzac portal can be accessed on:www.anzacportal.dva.gov.au/
The Australian High Commission would like to thank all the Organisations and Associations who are participating and arranging events and displays to mark the 100th Anniversary of ANZAC.
Please continue to monitor our web page 'ANZAC Day Commemorations' for further updates and information about activities related to the centenary commemoration of ANZAC.