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As Malta faces its first Christmas at war the Island’s inhabitants each find their own way of marking the festival. Continuing heavy rain failed to dampen the spirits of the season. After five days without the air raid siren and a week without bombing raids, here was an opportunity for some relaxation.
MILITARY CHIEFS SPREAD CHRISTMAS CHEER
Malta’s Governor and C in C Lt Gen Dobbie visited military units across the whole of the Island today, to boost morale and give Christmas greetings in person. The visit follows a Special Order of the Day distributed to all ranks and their families: “I wish all ranks and their families in Malta a Happy Christmas”. Officers of all military units serving in Malta became waiters for the day and served Christmas Dinner to the other ranks in a move which has become an annual tradition in the British Army.
CHRISTMAS DAY FOR THE ARP
From the log book of Cottonera ARP Centre
On Christmas Eve Ref Fr C Spiteri arrived at 5.30pm to take confession from all the ARP reservists at the Centre. Throughout the day, the men cleaned the Chapel and the rest of the premises at St Joseph Conservatory, Cospicua. In the evening they were given a fine supper and at 11pm a special treat of beer, cheese cakes and sweets.
Christmas Day was celebrated in the Chapel with Mass, Holy Communion and Benediction. During the day men enjoyed themselves singing and playing string instruments. In the afternoon three squads were allowed to go to the cinema at 4pm and another three squads at 6pm. (1)
CHRISTMAS DAY FOR EVACUEES
Young Charles Grech of Sliema, now living as a refugee in Mdina, recalls how his family celebrated their first Christmas Day of the war:
On Christmas Day we threw a party, which was good by the standards of those days and everybody enjoyed every minute, particularly the teenagers. For a few hours, everybody seemed to have forgotten the war and was joking and laughing.
The Christmas lunch was not a bad one for those times, for father managed to get hold of a turkey from a farmer, who lived in the region of Wied il-Qlejja and who owed my father a favour. We…also had cakes and biscuits, custard and non alcoholic drinks. Alcoholic drinks had vanished and whoever had some in stock used to hide them away, valuing them as much as gold. (2)
AIR RAIDS DAWN 25 DECEMBER TO DAWN 26 DECEMBER 1940
Weather Heavy rain; cold.
No air raids.
0925 hrs A mine is reported on the shore at Mellieha by 1st Bn Kings Own Malta Regiment and rendered safe.
OPERATIONS REPORTS WEDNESDAY 25 DECEMBER 1940
3rd Bn KINGS OWN MALTA REGIMENT His Excellency visits Camerata and wishes troops a prosperous and victorious new year.
8th Bn MANCHESTER REGIMENT The CO visited posts and companies of his command and gave a brief address, pointing out the tasks that lay before the unit, and the necessity for a constant state of preparedness. Xmas dinner throughout the unit was a big success and the usual custom of officers waiting at table for the other ranks was carried out
ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS Issues of 3.7in gun and 40mm ammunition to many new gun positions.
2nd Bn ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT Battalion Commander and Lieutenant Governor visited Companies.
(1) When Malta Stood Alone, Joseph Micallef, Interprint Malta 1981
(2) Raiders Passed, Charles Grech (translated by Joseph Galea Debono), Midsea Books, 1998
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