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Most people will know that Malta was once part of The British Empire and proof of this can be found still scattered evenly around the island with the many remaining telephone boxes, post boxes, buses, houses and street names. But, how much do you really know about the life of the British Army that was here to protect the Island?
Many Heritage Trusts in Malta, sometimes quite rightly, concentrate on the prehistoric or Knights of St John period of Malta’s rich history and this can been seen in the many wonderful attractions around the country.
However, Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna – The Malta Heritage Trust have mainly concentrated on more recent history – The British Military in Malta and WW2 history - to be exact.
Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna -the Malta Heritage trust, was founded only 27 years ago, by a group of six determined individuals, who valued heritage sites and sought their protection. Today, fuelled by a motivated and enthusiastic team of volunteers and staff, they have successfully amassed a total 34 heritage sites spanning throughout a variety of periods in history, many of which originate from the British Period. By means of donations and the steady flow of visitors, the FWA has come to be recognised as one of Malta’s most respected and longest serving Heritage Charities.
Four of these sites are permanently open to the public and have become some of Malta’s biggest visitor attractions. And with two in Valletta and two in The 3 Cities area, accessing them during your stay is simple.
The recently reopened and renovated Lascaris War Rooms, Valletta will give you a fascinating guided tour, where you will witness how the WW2 Mediterranean Campaign was controlled and won. Follow in the footsteps of the Allied Commanders and re-live life in one of Europe’s most influential secret War chambers.
The Saluting Battery, Upper Barrakka Gardens, Valletta is where you can witness the age old tradition of the firing of the Noon-Day Gun followed by a guided tour of The Saluting Battery which was used during the British period to provide ceremonial salutes to visiting dignitaries and ships. You will also marvel at unique views of the Grand Harbour and the 3 Cities from within the Saluting Battery.
The Malta at War Museum, Vittoriosa is an amazing insight into how the Maltese Civilians lived throughout the blitz of Malta. Right underneath the Museum, some 40 feet into the live rock is a huge maze of hand dug tunnels and galleries which acted as air raid shelter for hundreds of people. The guided tour escorts you through the tunnels and shows you the hardships endured during the relentless air raids. There is also an exclusive showing of “Malta G.C.” a propaganda documentary commissioned in 1942 by His Majesty King George VI just prior to Malta being awarded the George Cross.
Fort Rinella, Kalkara is not only a unique remnant of Malta’s recent British colonial past but also home to the world’s largest cannon – The Armstrong 100-ton gun, which could fire it’s monster shells up to 8 miles and pierce 21 inches of ship armour. Built by the British Army in 1878 Fort Rinella’s task was to secure Malta against a potential Italian seaborne attack. Apart from the hourly guided tours, you can witness live, colourful and authentic re-enactments including military signalling, firing of rifles, bayonet practice, military cooking and more, which are carried out throughout the day.
Details of all the F.W.A. sites can be found at www.wirtartna.org
Although all sites can be accessed independently, Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna – The Malta Heritage Trust are now running an exclusive full day “Malta Military Tour” which includes collection from your accommodation, entrance to 3 of the prestigious sites, a fully qualified coach guide, complementary light refreshments and return to accommodation. This is a fun packed day out and will give you a unique insight into how the British Military lived, worked and fought during their stay in Malta.
The Malta Military Tour can be booked with your Tour Operator or through one of the many Excursion Agents.