Sunday, September 6, 2015

A visit to Malta

In January 1945 HMS Whimbrel visited Malta  as part of a Royal Navy flotilla which was in training to go to the Pacific, The war in Europe was nearly over but the war for the Royal Navy and its crews was far from over, it was to be another year before they returned home.

Whilst moored in the Grand Harbour or adjacent to the bomb damaged Royal Naval Dockyard Dad  would have seen the church of Cospicua sitting just above, opposite Valletta. He did not know that this was the church in which his Maltese grandparents had been married in 1858 and  in which his mother had been baptised in 1862
Cospicua Church amid ruined houses 1942

The church had almost miraculously escaped unscathed from the enemy bombings of 1942 although many of the houses in the vicinity had been reduced to rubble.
Matti Grima Street, Bormla

If he had gone ashore to visit the church and if he had known, he could have walked up the stepped street alongside the church and a few streets away would have seen the house that his mother and grandmother had lived in an and where his great grandmother died.  But he knew nothing of this, as although he knew that his mother had been born in Malta, he had no idea which part of this small island she belonged to.  It was ironic that he was so close to her birthplace and was not aware of it.

Whilst at Malta there was shore leave for the crews and no doubt he would have visited some of the churches to attend mass, and perhaps chance may have taken him to the church of St. Paul Shipwrecked in the centre of the city where his grandfather had been baptised in 1835.