History of the GCIA

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History of The George Cross Island Association

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What is it all about?

The association came into being to commemorate and bring together veterans and families of the Siege of Malta (1940 to 1943). The Association is honoured to have as Patron, his Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh, KG, KT, Prince Philip who himself served in Malta.

Formed in July 1987 the membership included both British and Maltese drawn from Navy, Army, Air Force, Merchant Navy, nursing and Civil Defence personnel.

The Siege of Malta

The Island of Malta played an important role in WWII as a base to block Axis supply lines to North Africa.  If Malta had fallen then communications with the Middle East and the control of the Mediterranean would have been lost.  The strategic position of Malta was not lost on the Axis chiefs and bombed Malta remorselessly.

From June 11 1940 until 20 November 1942 the Island of Malta suffered some of the heaviest non-stop bombing that any country had endured with 154 continuous day and night bombings. The blue skies disappeared under a curtain of flack puffs and whole towns and villages were reduced to rubble and dust with the peak being reaching in April 1942.

The population of Malta endured immense suffering and hardship, surviving by living in tunnels which brought with it disease.  There was little in the way of drugs or medication nor was their sufficient food or fresh water, but they courageously struggled on – blitzed but not beaten.

ohio-in-malta-harbourThe Siege was finally broken in August 1942 by the arrival of the convoy of Merchant Navy Ships, which had been escorted by the largest, and most powerful escort of the British fleet ever assembled for this purpose, known as Operation Pedestal.  Only 5 of the Merchant Navy Vessels arrived in Grand Harbour, Malta the most famous being the tanker Ohio.

At this point military resources and food rations in Malta were practically finished and the population was on the brink of starvation.  To-date, this event remains commemorated in Malta in remembrance to those who lived and died in this and previous attempts to bring supplies to Malta.

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On April 15th 1942 King George VI  awarded the George Cross  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?

There is more information on the GCIA web site www.georgecrossisland.org.uk

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