21 May 2024 Misc. » Fifty Years Ago » Misc.  


In a press notice issued from Police Headquarters, it was stated that a floating mine was recently raised from the seabed, brought ashore and tampered with by unauthorised persons.

The action may well have resulted in a serious loss of life and danger to property.

The public is again warned that mines, bombs and other weapons and missiles are still appearing in the sea and in less frequented spots on land both in Malta and Gozo as a result of enemy action against these Islands during the last war.

It is every citizen's bounden duty to report to the local Police the finding of any suspicious object with the least possible delay and to refrain from tampering with such objects.

Friday, October 10, 1952: FILM STAR ALEC GUINNESS IN MALTA

Another film star arrives in Malta, though small, seems to be the terminus for film stars and companies these days. Latest J. Arthur Rank, top-billed star to fly in is Alec Guinness, leading light in such films as The Lavender Hill Mob, The Man in the White Suit, The Card (The Promoter) and many other box-office draws.

Mr Guinness is no stranger to Malta. While waiting to have his luggage checked by Customs authorities at Luqa airfield yesterday evening, he mentioned that both he and his wife had been in Malta in pre-war days.

"We had a little house in Sliema", he said, adding that he had a lot of old friends to look up during his brief break before commencing work in his latest film.

This quiet unaffected gentleman recounted how he used to play in the Royal Opera House in Valletta with the Old Vie Company in the piping days of pre-war Malta.

He also recollected the not-so-piping days of the Blitz when he visited here as Captain of an LCI, once as a survivor when the craft was wrecked in a storm. "My little boy, Matthew, who was partly paralysed with polio, not so long ago, is now back to school, thank goodness", said Alec Guinness, when asked about Matthew's condition.

Mrs Guinness should arrive in Malta on Tuesday to join her husband at the Hotel Phoenicia in an all-too-brief two weeks holiday before the cameras grind on the local scene of "The Malta Story'

Monday, October 13, 1952: FILM STAR FINDS BOMB AT ST PAUL’S BAY

Film star Jeffrey Hunter whilst snorkelling at St Paul's Bay yesterday fired his spring harpoon at what looked like an outside fish. On closer investigation he found his "fish" was a yard long, unexploded bomb.


The J. Arthur Rank Organisation Film Unit which this week commenced shooting of the film "The Malta Story' dealing with the siege of Malta in World War II, and which also tells the love story of an R.A.F. reconnaissance pilot and a Maltese girl, spent yesterday at Mistra, St Paul's Bay.

But the unit did little filming as the sun again failed to break through the clouds. But the boys of the top class of Mellieha Primary Schools went to Mistra with their headmaster, Mr A. Frendo, did not mind they spent two hours talking to the film stars - Alec Guinness, Anthony Steel, Muriel Pavlow and Renee Asherson.

In the afternoon the officers and men of 78 Fighter Wing of the Royal Australian Air Force visited the site and were photographed with the stars.

Alec Guinness spent some time rowing and Anthony Steel went swimmmg.

For the Film Mistra has been surrounded with barbed wire, as it was during the war years, and "Danger - Periklu" signs have been put up.

Monday, November 3, 1952: THE "MALTA STORY"

The "Malta Story" film unit of J. Arthur Rank Organisation was working simultaneously at the Government's Palace and at Fort St Elmo yesterday morning.

At the Palace scenes were shot portraying the announcement of the award of the George Cross to the island. Gunsite scenes at St Elmo were also taken. These portrayed the arrival of a convoy to the beleaguered Island Fortress.

In the afternoon at the Mile End ground the scene was one of a mass of women, men, and children besieging J. Arthur Rank producer Mr Peter de Sarigny, who had come to pick out 150 women and children for a shelter scene in the film.

Everywhere that Mr de Sarigny and his small band of helpers went, the crowd followed. Small boys on trees, on walls, and other vantage points cheered them on. Not a few of the crowd had come along to be "discovered". There were young girls smartly dressed, mothers with babies dressed to the nines - there was even a small band composed of an accordionist and guitarist on the spot.

The police certainly had their hands full segregating the sexes so that Mr de Sarigny could make his choice.

The whole thing was treated by the crowd as a huge joke, but it was no joke to give the work chits to the right people.


Over 170 Maltese film extras yesterday morning re-enacted incidents reminiscent of the war years in a number of very realistic shelter "shots" for the film "Malta Story'. The wartime shelter dwellings in the Valletta Main Ditch, below Hastings Gardens, were re-opened and 'inhabited" by 'families". Clothes lines had been rigged tip outside the shelter entrances; women held babies in their arms, children cooked over wood fires and played among the rubble.

Then as the director Mr B. Desmond Hurst said "Action" the camera commenced shooting. A blast on the whistle was the signal for the .extras' to run into the shelters as the air-raid siren sounded. And very well they acted too. They looked up at the sky and pointed to imaginary aircraft, then pelted for cover. One old man picked tip two children under each arm and ran into the shelter. A woman threw her hands in the air and screamed 'Air Raid'.

Sunday, NOVEMBER 9, 1952: "War" continues in Malta

On Friday Flight Lieutenant Peter Ross (Alec Guinness) told Maria (Muriel Pavlow) that he was going on a raid. This conversation took place in the Lascaris tunnel outside the Royal Air Force Operations Room and was filmed by J. Arthur Rank Organisation cameras for the film Malta Story.

Earlier in the week filming went on in Valletta ditch and in Senglea. Victor Maddern and Sam Kidd who came here to play sailors for 20th Century Fox changed uniforms and became two British soldiers who see the Malta Story convoy first appear.

The entire unit and all the actors of 20th Century Fox who are here making Single-Handed spent all the early part of the week on the Cleopatra filming the rescue of the German crew of the Essen.

Tuesday, November 11, 1952: JACK HAWKINS FOR “MALTA STORY"

Britain’s most hardworking star arrived here yesterday. His name - Jack Hawkins. He is accompanied by Mrs Hawkins, who was formerly the stage actress Doreen Lauranee.

Jack Hawkins has just completed the role of Captain Ericson in the film the Cruel Sea", based on Nicholas Monserrat's best-seller.

At 18 Hawkins played juveline leads in "Young Woodley" and "Beau Geste". In 1940 he joined the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and was later Colonel. After the war he returned to the West End. Jack Hawkins is a popular personality with film people. Soon after his arrival yesterday he and Mrs Hawkins were renewing acquaintance not only with personnel of their own Company, J. Arthur Rank, but with the 20th Century Fox who are filming "Single Handed".

Tuesday, November 12, 1952: "MALTA STORY"' - AIR SHOTS TODAY

Aircraft taking part in the J. Arthur Rank production of "Malta Story” are overflying Valletta and the Grand Harbour area between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. today and tomorrow.

Height clearance has been obtained for the planes to fly at between 100 and 2,000 feet.

Thursday, November 13, 1952: SAFI BLITZ FOR "MALTA STORY"

Part of Safi Air Strip was yesterday made available by the Royal Air Force for the filming of bombing scenes for the film "Malta Story".

Realistic scenes were shot of soldiers, sailors, airmen and policemen, running for cover as bombs exploded a few yards away from them . Afterwards extras had to be treated for minor bruises and a member of the film unit was taken to hospital in a car with an injured hand after a shower of rocks and small stones had cascaded on the camera crew.

The scene at Safi recalled the blitz days as extras supplied by the Army, Royal Air Force, the Navy and the Maltese Police as well as others dressed in civilian clothes queued for tea and for lunch. The Services personnel were dressed in K.D. and on their caps the Army wore the badges of units which were stationed in Malta during the blitz. Some 140 extras took part.

April 17, 1955: Historic Jeep presented to the people of Malta

The Jeep presented by General Eisenhower to Air Marshal Sir Keith Park, prior to the Sicily landings was formally presented by Air Marshal B.V. Reynolds, Air Officer Commanding to Mr J. Ellul Mercer, Minister of Works and Reconstruction, deputising for the Prime Minister (D. Mintoff) yesterday. The short ceremony took place on the Palace Square and was watched from the Palace balcony by His Excellency the Governor and Lady Laycock and Mr. Trafford Smith (Lieutenant Governor). On the square were the Malta Police Guard and a Royal Air Force Guard which had together with the Royal Force Band escorted the Jeep into the Palace Square. In a short address Air Marshal Reynolds said: "On this George Cross anniversary, it is my privilege to hand over to you and the people of Malta this Jeep known as 'Husky'. This Jeep was presented in 1943 by General Eisenhower to Air Marshal Sir Keith Park. Apart from being used as a personal vehicle by General Eisenhower, it was used to convey many distinguished visitors on tours of the island, including President Roosevelt, General Smuts, and Mr Truman then Vice-President of the United States.

"I have great pleasure in handing over 'Husky' to you on behalf of the Royal Air Force and trust that you will he able to give an honourable place in your Museum beside the Gladiator Aircraft Faith, that other veteran of the Second World War."


Air Marshal B.V Reynolds A.0.C. Malta presented a Jeep to the Hon Mr J. Ellul Mercer, Minister for Works and Reconstruction, deputizing for the Prime Minister (Mr D. Mintoff) at the Palace Square, Valletta. During the presentation ceremony, a Guard was mounted by the Malta Police Force and another by the Royal Air Force. Handing over the Jeep, Air Marshal Reynolds recalled that the vehicle had been presented by General Eisenhower in 1943 to Air Marshal Sir Keith Park, then A. O.C. Malta. The Jeep known as "Husky" was used by President Roosevelt when he visited Malta during the war and by other distinguished visitors including General Smuts and Mr Truman when Vice-President of the United States of America. On behalf of the Royal Air Force, Air Marshal Reynolds handed over "Husky" to the People of Malta to be placed in the War Museum. In reply Mr Ellul Mercer expressed the Prime Minister's and the People of Malta's appreciation and assured Air Marshal Reynolds that the Jeep would find an honoured place along with other famous war relies.

May 20, 1955: (Correspondence) IN DEFENCE OF "HUSKY"

It is deplorable that the historic jeep 'Husky' which was recently presented to the People of Malta in an impressive ceremony, should have been relegated to such an undignified and unsuitable place as it is at present occupying. I refer to the space behind the bronze figure of Neptune at the Palace, where a variety of cars and vans are parked all day long. This place also happens to be mustering station of Government workers in the neighbourhood, and it is no unusual sight to see a number of workmen perched on the jeep while awaiting their turn to be called. It is hoped that the Government will provide fitting accommodation for our 'Husky" without any further delay and in this connection I cannot think of a more suitable place than the Armoury. Observer. (Webmaster’s note: “Husky” is now to be found within the War Museum in Valletta.)

Wednesday July 1, 1955: ONE-TON BOMB REMOVED

At 8 a.m. yesterday precisely, a strange procession turned into the main road leading to Marsa, emerging from Scrap Lane near Luqa village. A three-ton Army lorry flying a large red danger flag was the centre of a small convoy of civil Police motor cyclists and Army Royal Military Police Jeeps. Along the deserted road to Marsa the convoy travelled slowly - almost delicately, for inside the three-ton lorry was the cause of all the precautions: A 1,000-kilogramme German high-explosive bomb with a temperamental fuse still embedded in its exposed TNT filling. Capt TJ.W Dalby R.E. in charge of the Garrison's Bomb Disposal Wing yesterday with his combined Maltese-and UK team of sappers from the MFSRE and a civilian driving a forklift track was at work getting the bomb ready for its last journey. Good timing got the bomb-carrying lorry to Marsa. Hard where commissioned Gunner T.A.S., C.L. Lawrence R.N. and his team of specialists of the Mediterranean Fleet Clearance and Diving Team were waiting to take the German bomb out to sea for final ditching. An assault landing craft was used.

Friday, July 15, 1955: SMOKE BOMB IN BALLUTA BAY

Lunch-time in the houses fringing Balluta Bay was quite an eventful occasion. The reason for all the getting up from table and peeping out of the door was a mysterious floating object coming in from the sea. Civilian Police kept an eye on the floating bomb-like object until Commissioned Gunner T.A.S. (C.D) C.L. Lawrence R.N. of the Mediterranean Fleet's Clearance and Diving Team turned up to see what the bomb was made of. Mr Lawrence swam out to the object and investigated. He ignored calls from well-meaning young lads bathing nearby of 'Mind Your Watch!" - he was wearing a rather large pressure-proof and water-proof wristwatch - and towed the bomb ashore. He explained that it was an Italian smoke bomb which had probably detonated but not expended its smoke-making composition. He also added that it was the third time in 48 hours that his team had had to recover this type of bomb out of the sea. He took the smoke bomb away with him for eventual dumping in deep water off Malta.

Saturday, July 16, 1955: TESTING AIR RAID SIRENS

The Civil Defence Organisation in Malta and Gozo which is taking part in the defence of Malta Exercise will be testing air raid sirens. The test is being made solely as a part of the exercise and is not meant to affect or restrict in any way the normal activities of the civil population.


The flags of Greece, Italy, Turkey, United States of America, France and Great Britain were flown over the new Headquarters of the Allied Forces, Mediterranean, at St Anne Street, Floriana.

Previously Headquarters Allied Forces Mediterranean had been situated at Naval Headquarters Lascaris, where the buildings had been occupied in a short ceremony on March 15 this year.

Wednesday, October 5, 1955: ECHO OF E-BOAT ATTACK

The huge Admiralty floating crane Clive lifted the rusty remains of a bridge which once linked the St Elmo arm of the breakwater with the shore. The span was lifted bodily of its base. In 1941 Italian E-boats tried to force an entry into Grand Harbour to sink a newly-arrived convoy but without success. In the attack they destroyed one of the iron spans and severed the link between the shore and the lighthouse at the tip of the breakwater.

Wednesday, June 13, 1956 WAR BOMB IN THE DOCKYARD

A Maltese workman in HM Dockyard must be thanking his lucky stars for a very narrow escape: he found an unexploded bomb near the galley at 4 Dock in a rather unusual manner. He was drilling into the surface with a pneumatic drill when he hit and unearthed the bomb. An area of some 300 yards round the spot was evacuated - this included the evacuation of two destroyers HM ships Chieftain and Chaplet in No 4 Dock,the galley nearby was emptied in record time, fortunately complete with the fresh-cooked mid-day meal.When the base plate was removed the full story came to light - and it was a very interesting story. The fuse pocket which houses the primary explosive charge had snapped completely offfrom the body and was driven deep into the explosive filling. The bomb had been sabotaged by pro-Allied workers in the German Factory which produced the bomb. A semi armour - piercing type the bomb was probably made in 1942 and weighed 500 pounds. The bomb was defused and work which had stopped in that part of the Yard near to the bomb was resumed. The Maltese workman who 'found' the bomb can think himself doubly lucky - almost 75 per cent of the 500 pound aerial bombs dropped on Malta are adjudged to be of the type where two fuses are incorporated.
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