Malta during WWII
Malta during WWII
How was life for the Maltese during the war?
Many shelters were cut into the rock.
By May 1941 there were shelters to accomodate 185,000 people
35,000 homes destroyed or damaged in Valletta and the Three Cities.
Great shortage of housing
British government gave Malta 20 million pounds for war damage.
Commerce was disrupted but there was no unemployment
Wages were high
Government tried to stop the black market and profiteering
Daily rations and Victory Kitchens were opened to feed the population.
How was Malta attacked by the Axis powers?
Italians were losing the war in North Africa
The Luftwaffe sank the aircraft carrier
and damaged the Royal Theatre using around 150 aircraft
Field Marshall Erwin Rommel (
) came very close to taking Egypt. The Germans occupied Crete and attacked British convoys on their way to Egypt.
Operation Sea Lion
(the invasion of Malta from Sicily) was postponed when Hitler decided to invade Russia instead (22nd July 1941)
In July 1941, the Italians made a bold attack upon the Grand Harbour using
. The attack failed but one E-boat hit and destroyed the metal bridge of the Breakwater.
In 1942, the islands were raided endlessly. Convoy ships carrying food, fuel and weapons were shipped to Malta from Britain, Egypt or Gibraltar but were attacked as soon as they reached Sicily or Sardinia.
Il-Konvoj ta' Santa Marija
) reached Malta on 15th August 1942.
Why did Italy attack Malta in 1940?
Base of the British Mediterranean fleet
One of the best dockyards in the Mediterranean
The British could attack Italian convoys on their way from Sicily to Tripoli.
Mussolini wanted to include Malta in a new Italian Empire.
Malta suffered its first air raid on 11th June 1940.
How was Malta defended during the war?
Anti-aircraft guns and searchlights
4 Gladiator fighter aircraft (Faith, Hope and Charity)
RAF (Royal Air Force) brought more aircraft from Gibraltar and Egypt (hurricanes, swordfish planes, flying boats, Wellington bombers, Spitfires)
Why did the Axis powers fail to take Malta?
Italian and German commanders did not have a consistent plan
Starvation (attacking the convoys)
Axis plans were changed too frequently, which gave the British time to strengthen defences
The Axis powers failed to invade Malta in 1941 when it was at its weakest.
Maltese and British fought heroically without losing morale.
When did the war over Malta come to an end?
The British victory at the Battle of El Alamein in October 1942 proved decisive. In November American troops landed in Morocco and North Africa was under Allied control by May 1943.
1943 Invasion of Sicily from Malta: Malta's value as an air base declines
8th September 1944: Italian fleet surrender in St Paul's Bay
Valletta and Cottonera declined in population
Baby boom registered in the years 1945 - 1954
Unemployment led to widespread poverty among the lower classes
Shortage of housing
The welfare state
Hundreds of workers discharged from the Dockyard
Malta lost its strategic position
A rise in unemployment
Mass emigration to English speaking countries
Strengthening of trade unionism with the setting up of the GWU in 1943
War Damage Commission report on economic cost of the war on Malta
Maltese granted with a new constitution (1947)
Women acquired the right to vote
Political parties reorganised themselves and resume political activities