The Malta at War Museum is an obligatory place to visit for those who are interested in the history of the island and, particularly, in the role of Malta in the Second World War. The initial purpose of the museum is to describe what the bravest Maltese inhabitants and their defenders suffered within the period of the Malta Blitz, which took place from 1940 to 1943.
The museum is situated in the old maritime city Vittoriosa (Birgu), which was half-destroyed by enemy bombing during the war, because of its location within the strategically important Dockyard Creek. The placement for the War Museum was found in very symbolic place: at the Couvre Porte, which became a shelter for many people suffered from the war hostilities. Built in the 17th century, the counterguard is a part of initial Birgu fortifications. In the 18th century casemates were built at Couvre Porte, and later on they became the army barracks. During the Second World War these barracks were first used as a police station premises and then as a civil defense center, specifying primarily in air-raid precautions. Today barracks and all the premises which were used as shelters make the integral part of the museum.
Among the exhibits you will find medals, documents, clothes and uniforms, weapons and many other items. There are also quite many rare exhibits among them. Except habitual showpieces numerous sounds and chronicles are featured in the museum. One of the most notional records among them is the original film footage of the war named ‘Malta C.G.”, released in 1943 by the Crown Film Unit on the initiative of King George VI. It was the first record film ever shot in Malta. It tells the story of unbelievable war severities Malta stoically withstood and received the George Cross for bravery from the King. He wanted all his subordinates to see these horrible trials of war times the island’s population faced. Sir Arnold Bax, the King’s Musician, wrote “Malta Suite” specifically for this film. The text was narrated by Sir Laurence Olivier. To gather enough of footage to edit the documentary, working materials of all the three filming crews which operated in the battle lines during the warfare were collected. Thus, the record covers numerous events beginning from Italy joining the war in 1940 and till the siege lift in 1942. Guests of the museum can buy digital copies of this film.
Within 2011-2012 the Malta at War Museum was renovated and expanded. Visiting it you will be surprised by its special atmosphere. It is not a simple museum with a plain layout of exhibits, it is a special place which submerges you into the war period and makes you feel and live through all the developments of those tough times.