Closest translation of the Maltese motto on the station badge I can come up with is 'Never captured by it's enemies'. My friend, Grace Aquilina, gave a literal translation of 'the airport has never been won by the enemies'.
I was stationed at RAF Luqa September 1972 to February 1974, short toured due to promotion to Corporal and shipped back to the UK. RAF Luqa has a long and meritorious history, particularly during World War II. From 1941 to 1943 the RAF base was very important for British forces fighting Italian and German navies in the Mediterranean. Support of troops fighting in North African also played a big part in the bases' history and proved it's strategic worth time and again. The air battles over Malta are well documented as is the staunch support of the Maltese people which earned them the George Cross. Other airfields were built on Malta apart from Luqa. TaQali and HalFar, Safi, Qrendi and even on the island of Gozo.
Since the war Luqa has taken part in the Suez crisis of 1956 as well as serving as the civilian airport for Malta, sometimes being referred to a Valletta Airport.
When I was posted to Malta in 1972 we were just returning after being requested to leave by the, then, Prime Minister Dom Mintoff. On our return there was much refurbishment to be undertaken and the communications relay station at Siggiewi had to be re-equipped. This meant the terminal communication centre at Luqa airport had to act as relay centre until control could be handed back to Siggiewi. It was a happy day for the terminal commcen staff when that happened! While there we had a squadron of Photo Recon Canberra's and Maritime Nimrods stationed permanently at Luqa but often had visiting aircraft, not least of all the compliment of HMS Ark Royal (Phantoms etc.) as they were unable to take off from the ship while in harbour.
We left again in 1979 after a dispute between the British and Maltese governments about continuing the lease. There was also a disastrous crash over the village of Zabbar involving a Vulcan bomber which affected feeling towards the RAF presence.
Depite political conflicts, causing us to leave, the relationship between Malta and the United Kingdom is excellent, as is the relationship between the respective populations. It's a wonderful place to visit for the history and friendly welcome that is always extended to visitors.
Crests of RAF Bases in Malta Courtesy of the War Museum, St Elmo. Photograph of the plaques was taken by David Gerrard and is on the Tal Handaq Nostalgia website
LIKE PHOTOGRAPHS OF 'OLD' MALTA? - YOU'LL LOVE THIS
Bay Retro publish old photographs of Malta and even have a FaceBook page where you can follow them if 'Like' them. It's been fascinating watching them pop up on FaceBook and even contributing myself. They receive old photos of Malta daily from people all over the world.
If you are not on FaceBook already it's one very good reason to do so.
While you are in Malta you must try Ron's Restaurant in Marsaxlokk. Specialing in fresh fish dishes they also offer other non-fish dishes. Lovely family run business in Marsaxlokk, Godfrey Zammit is the son of Ron Zammit, known to many as Big Ron of the Kalafrana Beach Club.
RAF Memorial, Floriana, Valetta
Thanks to Brian Crook for sending this photograph in of the RAF Memorial at Floriana. He took it on a recent visit to the Islands.
Another note for me to visit something while I'm there in September. Thank you Brian.
Malta War Diary A must read for people interested in the history of Malta during the war years.
“To honour her brave people I award the George Cross to the Island fortress of Malta to bear witness to a heroism and devotion that will long be famous in history.”King George VI, 15 April 1942.
Reading the historic diaries on this website you well understand why the people of Malta deserved this collective award so much.
Last Man Out Switch off the Lights! Photograph of the last VC10 to leave RAF Luqa. See on the photo gallery where it can be enlarged.
Photograph kindly sent in by Paul Higgins.
Nimrod Heritage Centre Plan
There is a plan being formulated for a heritage centre with an MR2 as it's centrepiece. Details can be seen at THIS LINK which was provided by Capt Bryn Wayt.
RAF Air/Sea Rescue Services Honoured
Emanuel has sent me this from the Times of Malta, see link below. Thought it appropriate to have the RTTL's back on the home page considering this honour bestowed on them. http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20110624/world/Remembering-the-RAF-members-of-the-Air-Sea-Rescue-services-in-Malta.372164
Colin has written a book about the time that 203 Squadron (Shackelton and Nimrod maritime reconnaisance) and tells the story of Shackletons and Nimrods in the Mediterranean during the Cold War.
Another book by Colin is " With All Modesty. 'The Veterans' Tales of the Battle for Malta " is 100 personal stories of folk who served in Malta, or on the Malta convoys, during WWII. .
The 'No. 203 Squadron The Malta Years' book is currently out of stock and, unfortunately, will not be reprinted.
There are some copies around so post on the forum if would like to borrow someone's copy.
Vulcan XH558 has a finite life and the association is constantly trying to raise funds to keep it in the air. Please click below to donate, join the association and to read the history of the restoration.