The Malta at War Museum in Birgu was a fascinating insight into the resilience of the island in wartime. Just 20 minutes flying time from Sicily, Malta was subjected to relentless bombardment. The island was strategically important and heavily defended. Today the museum is a short boat ride away across Grand Harbour.
The museum itself gives an insight into what life was like for the people of Malta in the Second World War. The island was continuously bombed and after the first raids over 100,000 people were displaced. Many did not return to Valletta.
I was fascinated by the displays of daily life and how people pooled food rations to minimise waste. The Times of Malta printed copy every day throughout the war. I watched the Malta GC film narrated by Laurence Olivier depicting the bravery of the people.
For me the most poignant part of the museum was the underground network of tunnels. They are easy to miss but essential to see and accessed via a narrow stairway. During bombing raids people took to the underground tunnels in Valletta which had been carved from limestone. There were bunks for sleeping, candles known as nicu in niches to light the way, and a canteen. The tunnel network even had a birthing room so ladies in labour had some dignity. And there was a surgery for minor illnesses.
This was a story of resilience and survival. Walking round the tunnels was a little creepy but poignant and thought provoking. I found the museum a very moving place to visit.