1914-1918 THE NURSE OF THE MEDITERRANEAN CWGC’S WORK ON MALTA 1939-1945 FORTRESS MALTA OTHER PEOPLE COMMEMORATED HERE In 1800, Malta became a vital base of operations for Britain’s Royal Navy. During the First World War the island was known as the ‘Nurse of the Mediterranean’: numerous hospitals treated more than 100,000 troops coming from fighting in the Mediterranean. Those British and Commonwealth personnel who died on Malta were laid to rest in cemeteries here. Private Thomas Beaudoin Thomas was a farmer who hailed from Victoria, Australia. At the outbreak of the First World War he joined the Australian Imperial Force and took part in the Gallipoli landings. While there he fell ill with typhoid, was evacuated to Malta and died in June 1915. He was 31 years old. Dedicated CWGC staff care for the graves of almost 3,400 Commonwealth service personnel in 14 cemeteries across Malta. Just outside Valletta City Gate is the magnificent Malta Memorial, which commemorates nearly 2,300 airmen who died during the Second World War but have no known grave. UNIQUE MALTA War cemeteries on Malta are different from typical CWGC cemeteries in France. Joint burials marked by flat tablets are common on Malta because graves needed to be cut into rock and space was limited. Malta was at the heart of the struggle for control of the Mediterranean. It was vital for Allied shipping routes, and as a base for aircraft and submarine operations. Between 1940 and 1942 Malta was besieged. Supply convoys were sunk and the island was subjected to relentless bombing. Locals were undaunted, however, and in recognition of their courage Malta was awarded the highest possible civilian award for gallantry, the George Cross. Commander Philip Somerville During the Second World War Philip commanded HMS Kingston, a Royal Navy destroyer. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order twice and the Distinguished Service Cross twice, for outstanding courage and command skill. In 1942, Kingston was undergoing repairs in Malta when it was bombed by enemy aircraft. Philip was killed as he directed his crew to safety; he was 35 years old. Captain Albany Charlesworth Recipient of the Military Cross, Albany was a member of Churchill’s delegation at the Yalta Conference at the end of the Second World War. Captain Charlesworth and his colleagues were killed when their aircraft crashed en route to the summit in Crimea. Gunner William Keats Born in 1920, William served as a gunner with the 166th (Newfoundland) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, during the Second World War. He died on 15 January1944. Upon his headstone are inscribed the words, ‘Twas noble thus to die/ God smiles/ on valiant soldiers/ their record is on high’. AVRO York Disaster Casualties from the worst air disaster in Maltese history are buried here. On 18 February 1956, a Scottish Airlines AVRO York aircraft took off with 50 British service personnel on board. Soon after take-off the aircraft developed a fault causing it to crash and killing all on board.