HMS Lance after dive bomber attack on Malta harbour, April 1942. Photo: IWM A 9516
80 years ago, on the 15th April 1942, the island of Malta was awarded the Commonwealth’s highest civilian decoration for courage and heroism by King George VI with the citation:
“To honour her 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”.
The medal was carried by the new governor to the island, arriving at Kalafrana seaplane base on May 7th during one of the many daily air raids endured by the island. It was then formally presented to the people on the 13th September once the air raids had declined to an acceptable level in a ceremony on the Palace Square, Valetta.
The George Cross was incorporated into the Maltese flag in 1943, appearing in the upper left-hand corner. The medal was displayed throughout Malta and Gozo and after the war it was displayed annually on the Palace Square until 1971 when it was withdrawn from view. The medal can now be seen at the Malta National War Museum in Valetta.
The George Cross and Malta (Capuccini) Naval Cemetery
CWGC looks after the many unique cemeteries and memorials to the fallen from both World Wars across the island of Malta. You can read more on Malta’s wartime role, the siege that led to the awarding of the George Cross and CWGC’s ongoing commitment to the island here.
Learn more about our Commonwealth war graves in Malta here.