A GRAND PHOTOGRAPH COMPENDIUM 0F MALTA'S HISTORY DURING THE BRITISH TENURE  WITH A TOTAL EMPHASIS 0N THE PERIOD LATE 19TH CENTURY, A LITTLE KNOW PERIOD WITH SOME EXCEPTIONS. WW1 and WW2 PERIODS  UNTIL CLOSURE IN 1979 WERE/ARE  RELATIVELY WELL KNOWN?

The following introduction comes fittingly from the Maltese web page called 'VISIT MALTA.COM' ergo from the Maltese people direct and that site owns the copyright to these words below in the Malta's introduction.

Malta's Introduction

After WW2, the movement for self-determination grew stronger and finally Malta was granted Independence on September 21st, 1964. British forces retained a presence in Malta until March 31st 1979 when their military bases on the island were closed. The Islands became part of the British Commonwealth.

The British Legacy.

Malta was part of the British Empire for over 150 years, so it is hardly surprising that business, laws and education have some British overtones. Today, you'll find plenty of this special blend of Mediterranean Britishness around in Maltese daily life.  English is a joint official language with Maltese. It is spoken fluently and widely. But English, as other languages such as Italian, has made an impact on daily conversation in Maltese (Malti). The Maltese often switch effortlessly from Malti to English mid sentence. Walking through the capital, Valletta, you'll come across shops and cafes with British names harking back to mid last century. Visitors are always surprised and charmed to see old-fashioned, red-painted, British letter and phone boxes when this street furniture has all but disappeared in the UK itself.  Driving is on the left, as in the UK. Out and about on the road, you'll come across a number of old British cars: Morris Minors, Ford Anglias and Prefects, Triumphs and Bedford lorries. Many are used regularly for daily travel, but others are lovingly cared for vintage models seen out only on special occasions.  Maltese cooking has also adopted some elements of British fare: local bars and cafes serve the British breakfast and brunch. Beer is a favourite drink here as in the UK, and is sold in 'pints' and 'half pints' rather than litres.

A British Introduction

Author's  note. I have served afloat and ashore in Malta for many periods but never have I heard that the local language was Malti.  Makes good and perfect sense  I suppose but so too does Maltese which I and thousands of others were well acquainted with.  However I would add that we who live in England do not speak Englani [or even Englandi, but English - take that as you will!  In the above introduction mention is made that Malta is part of the British Commonwealth. That to the vast majority of the British population is irrelevant almost academic, and in no way does it ever imply that the British Armed Forces have a commitment to Malta for its defence!

From as far back as the beginning of the 19th century relationships between the indigenous population and the British has for the most part been good with rocky patches, and most of those [vivid in our memories] believe it or not were in the mid 20th century and became quite fractious: I know for I was there based in Lascaris.   Our parting company after all those long 150 years was polite and business like, but above all else courteous but certainly not friendly, and no tears were shed on either side. For a very short time after HMS London left Grand Harbour with Flag Officer Malta aboard, Rear Admiral Sir Nigel Cecil KBE CB ADC, who symbolically took his Flag with him officially severing all Command contacts with the Maltese Government, we kept a tenuous connection as fellow members of the EU and our holiday makers rightly continued the contact looking for warmer weather and of course a friendly host.  Now that EU fraternity has evaporated as Great Britain rightly regains its sovereignty and retains its position as a Standing Member of the UNO and a member of G20 indicative of a world power,  and no longer bows and scrapes to Brussels and  Strasbourg, our military bond with Malta also ceases and is no more. Only our holiday  makers, which each takes an active part in a quid pro quo relationship, with Britons spending money in the Islands and Malta sharing its good luck with the warm seas and sunshine, we are now back as we were at the beginning of the 19th century two foreign nations with nothing but memories [and very good memories] to remember one another by. Britain's main defence thrust is nuclear and such vessels require but one base only and that is safely back in the UK from which our nuclear submarines operate world wide with no foreign bases necessary: an excellent example of such operations was HM Submarine Conqueror operating 8000 miles from home during the 1982 Falklands War sinking the enemies flagship resulting in the Argentine navy scurrying back to port never again to pose a threat! 

And so to the point of my web page, namely reliving by photographs some of the late on 19th century events which  the British enjoyed performing on Malta's friendly and accommodating terra firma.

Just like Britain's premier naval port in the UK, Portsmouth in Hampshire, Malta was garrisoned by the British Army and had far more soldiers than sailors stationed on or around the Islands. Staying with Portsmouth the soldiers out numbered the sailor by 5 to1 at one stage when in 1937 Bernard Law Montgomery was appointed as GOC of the 9th Infantry Brigade based on Portsmouth as an acting Brigadier.  In the mid autumn of that year his wife was bitten by an insect whilst sunbathing near Bristol the family home which resulted in severe blood poisoning. That led to a leg amputation and very shortly afterwards her untimely death. Monty, his nick name given to him during WW2, was grief stricken and hid his grief by totally immersing himself in soldiering. In 1938 he was promoted to Major General and sent to Israel to sort out the Jewish uprisings. His story thereafter is legend.

Back to Malta. Soldiers were everywhere, engineer regiments built fortifications docks and airfields, medical regiments formed and stocked hospitals, infantry and artillery regiments secured the island as though it were Fort Knox. It was fortified more than any other  makeshift fortress's part using the robust buildings of centuries ago and the thickness of their walls.  Many recreational facilities were built and areas were selected for training and ceremonial parades for military functions.  Classic of these were at Floriana which went on to be used for all armed forces functions, the navy benefitting greatly from these facilities.   No building deemed of military value was left untouched, nor any vacant space left undeveloped. As the navy filled Grand Harbour and less so Marsasmett  Harbour next door with many ships, the army, with a never ending job, built docks and dockyards, shore barracks, a harbour hospital [Bighi], building's, for naval stores, a naval faciiity for the fleet including copious sport pitches, a massive canteen and quite near to it a naval prison [Corradino].  The Maltese people must have marvelled at the sheer expertise of these soldiers and their work ethic.  During the first years of the 20th century, wireless stations were built as well as cemeteries created, and later on when some men could take their wives to Malta a large maternity hospital.  It was a roll-out lasting well past the 60 year mark since occupying the Island.  As important as any building designed as a fortress was the Island's rum store quite near to the naval cemetery close by Ricasoli and Rinella.

By American standards a smallish non nuclear carrier [but packed full of air assets] called the John F Kennedy making her approach for the breakwater and entrance into Grand Harbour.  Note midships port side is cleared with a helicopter parked ready for immediate launching should that be necessary. Makes our carriers look tame by comparison! BUT that ship was commissioned back in 1968  and decommissioned in 2007, and NOW, take that No 67, turn the 6 upside down to make a nine and then put the 7 in front of that to make 79. That's exactly what they did, Built a new carrier very much bigger than CV 67, ditched the old diesel engines and put in mega powerful nuclear reactors and now we have a brand new USS John F Kennedy to be operational for 50 years until 2070 and displaces 100,000 long tons - that means using 2240 lbs per ton [British measurement] instead of the US or Metric ton both of which are lighter than our long ton.  CVN 79 is 54 feet longer than CV 67 and wider, 58 ft taller and draws a 39 ft draft unlike 67 which drew 37 feet.  I don't suppose being nuclear Malta would welcome her but I don't think she would make it through Grand Harbour's tiny and awkward chicane breakwater. She certainly wouldn't get an alongside berth as CV 67 did on her visit to Valletta on Valletta Waterfront.

CVN79 is a President Gerald Ford class aircraft carrier and since there is not a published picture of the CVN79 in open water, this of the USS Gerald R Ford CVN78 will do nicely: it's identical and notice its clean and uncluttered lines compared to the previous JFK.

These carriers are much too big to get into any R.N. Port/Harbour unable to navigate around Drakes Island in Plymouth Sound enroute to and from Devonport so at best they could anchor in the Sound, and in the case of Portsmouth they would have to anchor in warship anchorages in the Solent off Gilkicker.

USS Gerald R. Ford underway

 

 

The pictures above are the silhouette of the British designed carrier HMS Malta which was never built and its ships crest approved but never used.

In the pictures below just two points. They are thumbnails. Click on them one by one to enlarge to a small picture which you may find perfectly adequate to read, but  if necessary click once more to grow the picture so that it is full size and easily read which will involve you in using your bottom scroll bar to pull the picture left or right.  Also, these are Victorian frames and the placing of a photograph with text on a page sometimes appears to be unfinished, and in  some cases the text disappears.  Don't be too off-put by this, for there is generally enough text to support the image.

The second picture below for example appears to end abruptly but all that is missing on the page of its own it to 'check that guards are alert and guarding the building properly.'  The MainGuard was the army's name for what we know to be today as The Governor's Palace in Palace Yard at the very end of the main street [St Elmo end] now called Republic Street, or in Maltese Triq Ir Repubblika.  It was the original guard house for guards protecting the Knights of Malta. The portico was built in front of the MainGuard palace front  in 1814 by the British with a large Coat of Arms added sometime later. Thus the arms could be those of George III who died six years later in 1820. The Governor at that time was Sir Thomas Maitland and the building  is now the office of the Maltese Attorney General.

 
 

Click here to read about the ship.  This is HMS Princess Charlotte in Grand Harbour Malta.docx  There is a security warning for a URL when this file is opened. It tells a surfer to make sure it TRUSTS THE SITE BEFORE OPENING IT. Trust it and Click on YES each time it asks you!
 
 
Picture above. Hibernia served for 37 in Malta non stop. Note how the magazine refers the Crimean War as the Russian War!
 
 
 
Godfreys Scene/So sayeth the soothsayer in the lines above.  Click here
 
CLICK HERE for the text associated with the picture below..docx There are two security warning for a URL's when this file is opened. It tells a surfer to make sure it TRUSTS THE SITE BEFORE OPENING IT. Trust it and Click on YES each time it asks you!
Death was not uncommon around the fleet and when it occurred it was always desirable to land the deceased body for a shore burial. In the following picture a convoy of small boats in heading from an unknown ship moored in Grand Harbour mid stream, up Dockyard Creek into the Three Cities, being towed by the boat on the right [a steam pinnace] with the body in the stern of the pinnace and the towed boats containing the burial party and the grave side firing squad salute team. This picture will only enlarge from thumbnail to small.
'REQUIESCAT IN PACE'
is Latin for Rest in Peace

In this picture above it seems that being stationed on Malta especially in summer was not a nice place to be and was generally disliked. The three pictures in this photograph show the first of a pretend landing on the Island which thereafter became an annual event when Malta is invaded by foreign forces. Here the navy brigade lands ashore and then climbs dragging their attack weapons up precipitous inclines to attack the Maltese Garrison. In the lower picture the brigade, absolutely knackered rests awhile  with their rifles tripodised in army fashion. Dressed in blue uniforms with the accompanying heat of the day and weight of weapons rendered this a very disliked exercise evolution.
 
Picture above.  Admiral John Fisher was the Second Sea Lord in 1902 [promoted to First sea Lord in 1904] so very much a personnel visit the prime job of the 2SL. Full parade in his and his staff's honour. Every dignitary on the the Islands was present at this celebration on 31st May 1902 for the end of the Second Boer War which commenced 11th October 1899. The First Boer War was from 20 December 1880 to 23 March 1881.
Picture above.  Regrettably we shall never know who took the inspection of the men in Malta, but it must have be a jolly for them whilst visiting Australia! 
Picture above. These movements were to reinforce South Africa during the  Second Boer War. Sir Redvers Buller VC [mentioned in the text above] was a General and the C-in-C of all British forces in South Africa at the start of the war which finished in 1902. On his return home in 1900 he was much praised and gave many speeches on the conduct of the war. However, the Boers had turned from open war to guerilla warfare and did the British Army much damage as a result. Britain was losing the plot and the war. The Times led with a hard hitting criticism of Bullers time in South Africa and blamed him for allowing the Boer farmers to become such a potent guerilla force. He hit back at the press in a personal attack on the 10th October 1901 and was summoned to the War Office for breaking military discipline as a top rank officer and was told to surrender his commission which he refused to do, so come the end of October he was sacked and  dismissed his position which by that time was the GOC of the Aldershot Garrison. He was very popular with the people and petitioned the King to help defend him, all to no avail. He died in 1908 a broken man. The British went on to win the war.
Picture above. Malta in common with the UK and the Commonwealth countries went overboard to celebrate Queen Victoria's 81st birthday which was the 24th May 1900.  It was to be her last for she died on the 22nd January 1901. The pictures are self explanatory.
Picture above 'MALTA Remembers Queen Victoria in 1901' 
Picture above.  When marching in REVIEW ORDER the band would strike up with the navy marching tune and song called NANCY LEE - a very difficult marching pace!   At all other times the navy marched  to Heart of Oaks, a quick step. Look here http://www.godfreydykes.info/nancy%20lee.html   to hear tune and to read the lyrics.
All these artefact above were made in the Malta dockyard usually with ship personnel of the artisan and atrificers rates. They were used for Grand Harbour regattas or ship/squadron regattas. Here we see two ships mentioned namely the Canopus and the Ceasar.Ceasar was a Majestic class battleship of 1896, and Canopus was a pre-Dreadnought of 1897. The Dodo was the work of HMS Victorious in honour of a royal visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York to Malta.  The swan was a dockyard matey's creation and was judged second place. Gladiator made the Sea Monster and Hibernia winning first prize with its old warship.  Royal Oak produced a Noah's Ark.
In the picture above something rarely seen by anybody?  Over to the port side is Fort Ricasoli! Where then is the famous breakwater? Grand Harbour entrance before the chicane bend was introduced  to reduce the harbour access width and to facilitate steel ropes being fitted between Ricasoli Point and the seaward end of the breakwater to form a barrier to submarines, The breakwater also slowed the chance of surface vessels gaining a speedy entry into the harbour making the guns of Ricasoli and St Elmo easier to be brought to bear. The breakwater was built in the 1903/04 period.
The picture below shows a good view of Elmos point how it used to be before the breakwater and bridge were built. Note its formidable battery and gun ports. The destroyers around the 1890 period defended that wide entrance into Grand Harbour and were ready to pounce often hovering in  Bighi Bay.
Picture above. Strada Levante sometimes written as East Street or L'Vant Street runs from approximately Upper Barrakka gardens going down hill to Lower Barrakka garden heading in the St Elmo direction. It is a main Valletta thoroughfare. The text tells one everything. The word Levant belongs in the Mediterranean region and covers many countries in Western Asia so Cyprus,Syria Jordon,Lebanon, parts of Egypt, parts of Turkey, Israel etc. Almost from 1803 the R.N. appointed a senior officer as Commodore Levant Areas. Note the raised walkways either side of Strada Levante to get pedestrian off a busy narrow street!
 
Picture above - it took over two days to decorate Palace Square in Valletta to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in May 1897
The pictures above and below. Show a small part of hundreds of soldiers who line the areas following the Valletta side of Grand Harbour from Floriana through to St Elmos point each armed with a rife with one blank cartridge ready to fire. At the order fire, made from the start of the long and windy line close to what became the  HAF MED building [Headquarters Allied Forces Mediterranean] in Floriana  which Dom Mintoff asked NATO to close down in 1971, The fIrst soldier fired his weapon very closely followed by the next man and so it continued along the line, often broken by sea fronted buildings, to the harbour entrance. The event was called a " feu de joie"  (French for  "fire of joy") a formal celebratory gunfire consisting of a celebratory rifle salute and no doubt a musket salute before that, described as a "running fire of guns." As soldiers fired into the air sequentially in rapid succession, the cascade of blank rounds  produces a characteristic "rat-tat-tat" effect. Done properly and with many scores of men it was extremely impressive. A "fue de joie" was fired for Royal Events and sometimes though much reduced for the change of Governor. It was also used in the UK on certain "JOLLY" occasions and the procedures are well documented in the Naval Drill Book. Although difficult to see,  the soldiers are stationed on all the prominent buildings to Lascaris/Customs House top and beyond.
 
Picture above. The cavalry areas were established at Marsa and the date line for this picture in 1899.
Picture above. HMS Ramillese a Royal Sovereign class  battleship launched in 1892,  This picture 1896.Note the officers with no ring [or curl] on their top stripe are from Civil Branch List and not Executive Branch List officers, supply, engineers, medical and others. Those wearing three buttons on their cuffs are midshipmen. Note the officer standing extreme right wearing two and a half stripes. He was documented and appointed as a lieutenant of over eight years seniority. In 1914 his rank became a lieutenant commander. The officer seated on the deck front row far left is an engineering branch midshipman. Note the officer seated on a chair second row left wearing a mortar board cap is the padre and the officers school master/tutor. The officers standing at the back are warrant officer of either three types, basic, over 10years seniority and chief or commissioned warrant officer. The word commissioned in this case is often misunderstood for the words following states the case. He is not a commissioned wardroom officer. However, he can achieve further promotion by being commissioned a second time, this time dropping altogether the mention of warrant officer, becoming a lieutenant with full wardroom status. The admiral Charles Beresford was for a period an enigma in that he was an MP as well as a serving naval officer which often resulted in him and the Admiralty falling out, especially when he spoke in the House on naval matters sometimes clashing with naval policy
The blackboard behind suggests that the naval ladies lost by1 point!
28th January 1901 and a rainy day in Malta. Parade outside the Governors Palace Valletta.
Duke of Cornwall and York in Malta in March 1901. His name was George and he married Mary of Teck. In 1936 at the death of his father Edward VII they ruled as King George V and Queen Mary.  In 1901 Edward VII sent George on a tour of the British Empire and in addition to being the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York he was also lumbered with the title Duke of Cornwall and York plus others  he had received from Queen Victoria.  Looking at this picture where both centre officers are resplendently dressed moreorless alike, one could fall in the trap of thinking one was Cornwall and the other York. However, full marks if you spotted  the Royal Way of wearing a sash which is over the  left shoulder to right hand trouser pocket and coloured blue never crimson. although you can't possibly tell from this picture.. See also picture below taken in 1901
Mr Chamberlain was the Secretary for Colonial Affairs and arrived in Malta as be guest of the Governor Lieutenant General Sir Francis Grenfell. He remained the Governor from 1899-1903 and during that time he was elevated to the style of Field Marshal Rt Hon Lord Grenfell GCB GCMB.  Chamberlain [Joseph] was Neville Chamberlains [PM 1940] father who retired from public office in 1906 travelled to Malta from the UK in the Battleship Caesar. see picture below to see his arrival in Grand Harbour
Picture Above. Which was in the 19th century and still is today in the 21st at MARSA right at the end of Grand Harbour 
 
Picture above. Grand Harbour in 1900 showing Dockyard Creek and Frenchman's Creek 
 
Picture above.  Admiralty House South Street Valletta Malta said to be an an outstandingly beautiful staircase 
Dress ship a la 19th century in Grand Harbour Malta 
 
Note the two types of officers back then, the Civil  Branch List and Executive Branch list.  On the left is the admiral's secretary a Civil list [white cloth bands between his stripes denoting supply and secretarial] and no curl on top stripe, He is a lieutenant of over 8 years seniority and wears two and a half stripes - later in 1914 the rank style changed to be a lieutenant commander, The other officer, quite much younger, is an executive lieutenant under 8 years seniority acting as the flag lieutenant. Flag Lieutenants were personally selected by a commodore first class or a rear admiral and were  expected [and groomed] to marry the admirals daughter.  He had his feet under the table and his promotion was almost guaranteed to become a flag captain with a career long support of the admiral and the admirals social and naval peers and colleagues. At the introduction of signalling he was nearly always a lieutenant qualified in visual signalling and as time went on qualified in V/S and W/T thereafter called a Signal Officer,  His role was often onerous for he had clearly [had to] sold his soul to the admiral, his family and his household without a moment to himself except later on when he became a flag lieutenant commander, flag commander etc etc to the most senior of admirals who never again went to sea in an operational role and were grandees of the Admiralty and its building in London, Note a customary article of uniform for commissioned officers [ratings wore gloves when ordered or voluntarily when cold and away from naval ceremony]. It was the custom that gentlemen, from having the title of Esquire on upwards, wore brown leather gloves and this was adopted in the armed forces and by officers in other services like the police force, fire brigade, mercantile marine, etc. In temperate climes [UK for example] dark brown gloves were worn or carried, whereas in intemperate climes [the tropic for example] light kid gloves which are light tan in colour were the order of the day.
Picture above.  The Fleets in harbour and dressed overall and whilst they are at rest in this wonderful port, its probably time for me to switch off my computer and rest too. One of the obvious problems inherent in a twenty year web site write is that one collects so much information that it is virtually impossible to present it all on the WWW. Enjoy this tiny part of Malta's 19th century history and farewell.