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Report - Air Raid Shelters, Mdina, Malta - November 2015

Discussion in 'European and International Sites' started by Bertie Bollockbrains, Nov 24, 2015.

  1. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

    Sep 1, 2014
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    Mdina is a medieval walled town in the centre of Malta and the former capital of the island. Anyways this explore wasn't planned but came about by just happening to be in Mdina one day and noticing a few locked gates in the defensive ditch that surrounds Mdina:



    Well those gates got my curiosity going. I had no idea at the time what they were. I just had to go in and see. Originally I thought that these were part of the nearby St Paul's Catacombs (of which a small part is open to the public) but we now know them to be air raid shelters from World War II.


    Difficult to give precise history to these shelters, but I can quickly mention the war in Malta. More tonnage of bombs were dropped onto Malta than the London Blitz, becoming the most bombed place on Earth. In April 1942 alone, more than 11000 buildings were destroyed or damaged. It is with good reason that King George VI awarded the George Cross to the island of Malta in April 1942 as to "bear witness to the heroism and devotion of its people". The George Cross is now woven into the flag of Malta.

    Population in Malta and Gozo at the beginning of the war 270,000
    • Air raids registered throughout the war over Malta 3,343
    • Total hours under Air-raids 2,357
    • Tonnes of bombs dropped on the Maltese islands 15,000
    • Civilian casualties June 1940 - April 1944 1,581
    • Military and Merchant Navy casualties 7,500
    • People injured 3,780
    • Convoys to Malta (1940 - 1942) 17
    • Enemy aircraft destroyed
    (confirmed) 241
    (unconfirmed) 48

    Hundreds of air raid shelters were built across the islands, the largest being in Mellieha which are now open to the public. Not sure about these air raid shelters in Mdina, but information signs at the shelters in Mellieha tell me that Mellieha alone had 13 diggers, 11 assistants and 6 other workers employed to dig the public shelters. The quota of space inside the shelters was 2 square feet for each person. Families could apply for a permit to dig private shelters themselves providing that the shelters were no more than 1.8m wide.


    Visited with @The devil child

    Steps leading down:

    Tight passages:

    Leading into smallish chambers:



    Alcoves on the wall for holding candles and lamps. Notice the numerous chisel marks on the wall suggesting that these shelters were dug by hand (the rock is a relatively soft chalky limestone):


    And a bivalve fossil in the the rock:

    Thanks for reading

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