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Your Guide to Malta and Gozo - War Museum

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The National War Museum

St Elmo Palace, Valletta; Tel: (+356) 21 564 188;  http://www.heritagemalta.org

Temporarily Closed!

 

Located in the Old Drill Hall of Lower Fort St. Elmo, the museum first opened its gates to the public in 1975. The first room past the turnstile hosts a collection of artefacts pertaining to the First World War. A mannequin dressed as a Naval Officer eyes visitors as wartime music plays in the background. 

Items on display here include a walking stick made by German Prisoners of War and containers of medical ointments.

The rest of the exhibition is dedicated to World War II. Faith, a rather complete - albeit wingless - Gloster Sea Gladiator biplane takes the centre-stage. There is a well preserved example of a Bedford MWD truck painted to resemble a Maltese rubble wall. On display are also remains of the Royal Opera House, destroyed by the Luftwaffe in 1942. There is a Bofors Light anti-aircraft gun that used to guard the Grand Harbour from enemy attacks.

The George Cross awarded to Malta by King George VI on 15 April 1942 and his letter to Governor Dobbie is exhibited in this museum.

Milestones used to be purposely defaced so that directions would be denied to invaders. An example of a defaced and a corresponding intact milestone are also amongst the exhibits. Further on is a Punch cigar, guarded by a bust of wartime British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, to whom it used to belong; and a walking stick used by General Eisenhower. Husky – a Willys Jeep brought to Malta and used by Eisenhower reminisces the days prior to the invasion of Sicily.

The exhibition takes on a more human face with a reconstruction of a chamber inside a bomb-shelter complete with religious images and a flickering kerosene lamp. In such spaces, terrified inhabitants used to huddle during an aerial attack. Just outside it are artefacts unearthed from a bomb shelter in Luqa in 2008, including religious figures and medicinal containers.

The final exhibit is a memorial to the hundreds of soldiers who looked at Death in the face in their relentless struggles to liberate Malta during one of the darkest periods of the Islands' history.