Saturday, 6 November 2010

Operation Husky, Malta in 1943

My chosen reading for a recent trip to Malta was 'D Day' by John Gunther. Not, as you might imagine, a book about the Normandy landings in 1944 but actually an eye witness account of the assault on Sicily in 1943 - Operation Husky. By a happy coincidence my wife and I found ourselves staying at the Hotel Phoenicia, the same hotel which was used by the author during his visit to the war torn island of Malta. For it was on the island of Malta that the operation was planned.

A short walk from the Hotel and quite close to the RAF Memorial, one cannot miss the huge medieval bastions surrounding the old town of Valetta. It was below these city walls, at the foot of the Lascaris Bastion, that Eisenhower planned the invasion of Sicily.

I'm told that the site is about to be turned into a tourist attraction. However, I was lucky in getting to see this historic place in its 'natural' state. Gunther recalls going down into the tunnels to what was known as '947' and meeting the General in a room that he described as a 'cubby hole'. Some 67 years later and after negotiating my way through a series of tunnels and  rubbish strewn passageways, I was able to identify vestiges of the original military presence. The following photographs show the complex as it is now.