Faith, Hope & Charity

During World War II, the island of Malta, just off the coast of Sicily but held by the British, became a crucially important location to both sides. Pre-war British reasoning that the island was indefensible meant that when Mussolini declared war in June 1940, Malta’s meagre defences consisted of six obsolete Gloster Gladiator aircrafts. Within hours of the declaration of war bombs were falling on Malta; the Grand Harbour, Valletta and the so-called Three Cities on the other side of the harbour suffered particularly badly as the Italians and the Germans tried to starve and bomb Malta into surrender…

“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three…” (1Cor 13:13)


The three Gloster Gladiators that defended Malta in the early stages of the siege – until reinforcements reached the island – came to be known by the nicknames of Faith, Hope and Charity. As a matter of fact, there were more than three aircrafts (there were 12 on the island altogether, six of them packed in crates), although there may never have been more than three in the air at any given time. Charity was shot down on 31 July 1940, Hope was destroyed on the ground in May 1941 and Faith…

IMG_1945.jpg
Faith, in the National War Museum of Malta, in Fort St Elmo

The siege of Malta continued well into 1942. The story of Malta’s defence and the efforts of the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force in keeping the island supplied with food, fuel, arms and armed personnel, as well as the stubborn resistance of the population, has been the subject of several books of fiction and non-fiction, not to mention any number of films. In recognition of the heroism of the islanders, the George Cross – the greatest non-military decoration of the UK, inferior only to the Victoria Cross – was awarded to the entire island in 1942 by King George VI.

 

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4 thoughts on “Faith, Hope & Charity

    1. Do you mean the megalithic temples? We saw the ruins at Hagar Quim. Also the hypogeum in Paola and St Paul’s catacombs in Rabat. Maybe I ought to devote a Sunday miscellany to them. 🙂

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