Life Without Bombs

The invasion of Poland by Adolf Hitler on September 1, 1939, made Nazi Germany's clash with Great Britain and France inevitable. Only two days after Danzig had been forcibly incorporated within Third Reich and Poland's only outlet to the sea taken over by the invading forces, Great Britain and France had to accept the challenge thrown at them by an arrogant Fuhrer. Many Europeans felt that the war on Polish soil was the continuation of that bloody conflict which had taken place over most of, Europe only twenty short years before. That was the war of 1914-1918 which was supposed to have ended all wars.

The news of another European War was received with mixed feelings in Malta. Malta had not been immediately touched by the First World War because island was far removed from the major battle grounds on the continent. At worst most observers hoped that this new conflict would only cause the inconveniences encountered during the period of 1914-1918. This hope was brusquely shattered on June 11, 1940, when Italy's dictator, Benito Mussolini, joined Adolf Hitler in declaring war on Italy's former allies, Great Britain and France. The analogy with the First World War no longer held.

With Sicily less than sixty miles north of Malta both the Luftwaffe and the Regia Aeronautica were within easy reach of Maltese targets. As if to drive in this new element of the war on the very day Italians joined the Germans, the Maltese were subjected to the first attacks from the air. On that day Malta suffered the first casualties of the new war and an exodus of refugees from the inner harbours area ensued. In December 1940 the Germans brought their fighter-planes to the Sicilian airfields and with their constant bombings the Great Siege of Malta began. That ferocious siege was to last for more than three years.

Source: The Safety Valve (1997), author Fr Lawrence E. Attard, Publishers Enterprises Group (PEG) Ltd, ISBN 99909-0-081-7

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