The Malta Independent 6 October 2022, Thursday
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Santa Marija Convoy: 75th anniversary one of Malta’s most seminal WWII moment approaches

Sunday, 30 July 2017, 12:00 Last update: about 6 years ago

Seventy-five years ago today Malta was on the verge of starvation and days away from a possible surrender to the Axis forces led by Nazi Germany. But a last-ditch, high-risk effort to supply the island with direly needed fuel and food paid off, despite heavy losses, when the American tanker, the SS Ohio, was towed into Grand Harbour at 9.30am on 15 August, to cheering crowds.

This August marks the 75th anniversary of the seminal event.

Operation Pedestal – popularly known as the Santa Marija Convoy, given the date on which the SS Ohio was towed into port – not only saved Malta from surrender but also arguably turned the tide of WWII in favour of the Allies.

Operation Pedestal was ultimately a tactical disaster, given the great losses sustained, but it was also a clear strategic victory for the Allies. The supplies bought Malta roughly 10 more weeks, but the fuel supplies helped ensure that the Malta-based fighter planes would protect ships unloading in future supply operations.

The fuel also gave a substantial boost to Malta-based operations against Axis shipping lines, which sank a substantial proportion of Axis convoys to North Africa. These losses helped turn the tide in the region, and increasing Allied control in North Africa made supplying Malta an easier task.


FAA to hold once-in-a-lifetime commemoration

On Saturday, 12 August, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar Senglea and Cospicua Local Councils will be holding a once-in-a-lifetime commemoration with a spectacular sound and light performance featuring Alfred Mallia, Paul Portelli, Paul Xuereb and Monica Attard, drawing on diaries and historical film footage projected onto the Senglea bastions. The Police and re-enactors of Malta WWII Command Group will also bring this moment in history to life.

The event will also have musical interludes throughout the night by Stradivarius virtuoso, Lorenzo Meraviglia, playing his violin that was made in 1730. 

On 14 August, a Santa Marija Convoy Concert a – Homage għar-Reżistenza: Malta, the Ohio and Santa Marija will be performed by Maestro John M. Kennedy for the first time, with the support of the US Embassy. Meraviglia will perform Bach, Tchaikovsky and other pieces on the 1730 Omobono Stradivarius at a concert to be held in Valletta’s St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral at 8pm. 

A Santa Marija Convoy Art exhibition by Raymond Dominic Agius, complemented by an historic exhibition curated by Jay Jones, will continue the commemoration at the St George Band Club in Cospicua on 16 August at 7.30pm.

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