17 April 2024

Maltese community to honour Anzac countrymen who served in World War I

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Anzac service at George Cross Falcons Club.

Last year’s Anzac service at George Cross Community Centre. Photo: Facebook.

The Illawarra’s Maltese community will gather in Cringila on Saturday (20 April) for an Anzac ceremony in memory of countrymen who died in World War I.

Attendees will gather at the George Cross Falcons Community Centre’s memorial from 10 am.

The George Cross Falcons Club was built in 1951 to serve the Maltese community who had arrived in the Illawarra to work at the Port Kembla Steelworks.

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About 40 Anzacs who enlisted to serve in Gallipoli and the Western Front were Maltese and seven were killed in battle. The George Cross Falcons memorial is inscribed with an honour roll of those servicemen.

The seven Maltese men who died are buried on foreign soil – one at Gallipoli and six in cemeteries in France and Belgium.

Another 30 who were engaged in battles at Gallipoli and on the Western Front were fortunate enough to survive and return to Australia.

George Cross Falcons president Louis Parnis said everyone in the community was welcome to attend Saturday’s ceremony.

Memorial at George Cross Community Centre.

The Anzac memorial at Cringila’s George Cross Community Centre. Photo: Supplied.

He said the ceremony would remember the Maltese immigrants named on the plaque and salute them for their sacrifice and courage.

Former City of Wollongong RSL sub-branch president Rear Admiral Bruce Kafer will lead the service.

Malta became known as the Nurse of the Mediterranean by the Anzacs. The island was far from the battlefront on the Gallipoli Peninsula, so it became a medical recovery outpost.

The high number of serious casualties in the Gallipoli and Salonika campaigns saw 136,121 wounded or sick soldiers treated in Malta.

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An average of 2000 wounded soldiers arrived in Malta from the front every week, while the record for the most patients treated in one day was more than 20,000.

According to Mr Parnis, Anzac servicemen highly praised the treatment they received in Malta.

Saturday’s ceremony will be told accounts of Anzac servicemen who were treated in Malta were widely published and gave the Maltese credibility and a good reputation – something which was important in the migration climate between Australia and Malta at the time.

One Australian officer wrote: “If the doing of good deeds means the storing up of eternal treasure, then indeed Malta is a community of spiritual millionaires.”

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