World War II: Malta--Evacuating Children (1939-40)

Malta World War II refugees
Figure 1.--The British evacuated some children from Malta during the first year of the War. We do not yet know how many or when. Here we see some of the children in Britain. We are not sure just where, probably not London. The wire service caption read, "Milk from U.S. donations for young refugees: Maltese children refugees receiving donations of milk bought with funds sent by Sunday school children of the United States." The photograph was dated September 3, 1940. This was of course at the peak of the Blitz. The children are in a large town or city. One with a Mayor. He is dressed in his robes of office giving out the donated milk.

When Italy entered the War, the Admiralty debated evacuating Malta. While Churchill decided to hold the island, this did not preclude civilians from evacuating. Some Maltese children were evacuated to England. We thought they were mostly British children living with their families on Malta, but many of the children and teenagers here in England look Maltese and not just British. So apparently the evacuations were not limited to the British. We are not sure just when these evacuations took place. Before the fall of France, it was a fairly easy matter to evacuate children from Malta. We do not know how many children were evacuated. We know that many British children stayed on the island. After the fall of France (June 1940), evacuations became more difficult. Even so, Malta was not a major Axis focus. This changed when The Germans dispatched Rommel and the Afrika Koprs to save the Italians in Libya (March 1941). Malta became the cornerstone in the British efforts to interdict Axis supplies to Libya. It is at this time that the Germans began to focus on Malta. The Luftwaffe was deployed on Sicily and Sardinia (September 1941) to bomb the island and prepare for an invasion. Evacuations as a result became virtually impossible.


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Created: 6:30 PM 9/1/2010
Last updated: 7:34 AM 9/17/2011