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Diary Extracts RAPC Malta after VE Day

by Jean Bruce

Contributed by 
Jean Bruce
People in story: 
Leonard Francis Cuthbert Knight
Location of story: 
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Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
09 May 2005

The Command Pay Office, St. George's Barracks

These diary extracts were written by my father, Mr L.F.C. Knight (1912 — 1991) as part of our Family History, which includes stories of life as family members knew it, photos, family trees and other relevant information. After serving at Reading, my father was sent overseas and below is a description of the life on Malta in 1945 after VE Day.
Sat 12 May
Usual swimming, walks, tennis etc. Demob. Groups 1-4 on way back.
Wed 16 May
To Command Education Centre to hear Boyd Neill in talk on stringed instruments.
Fri 18 May
Bugs found in one of the mosquito nets. All iron frames of beds gone over with paraffin.
Sat 19 May
Leave on the Island of Gozo. To Valetta, bus to Marfa and ferry boat “Franco” across to Mgarr. Passed small islands of Comino and Cominatto between Malta and Gozo. Stayed at the Victoria Hotel Rabat. Like its name very down at heel with Victorian pictures, old furniture.
Sun 20 May
To Divina Bay, Gozo. Excellent scenery with fields of barley growing for Summonds brewery.
Up at 5am. Bus to Mgarr. Ferry to Marfa. Bus to Birkara. Walk to St. Georges. Back 8.15 am Swim in evening. Malta buses different colours for differing routes as most local villagers cannot read.
Sun 3 June
Trip to Armier Bay Swimming and lounge. Getting too hot for comfort. Almost burning sands. Back 6pm.
Tues 5 June
Lecture by Ministry of Labour official on re-settlement.
Sun 10 Jun
After two days backache admitted to command Rest Centre (C.R.S.) and fly fever. Effects like a dose of the ‘flu, caused by infection from minute flies, able to penetrate mesh of mosquito nets. Very prevalent complaint. 3 days in C.R.S.
Wed 13 June
Out of C.R.S. Shopping in Valetta, shoes and sheets and then to Command Hall.
Thurs 14 June
Kings birthday celebration. Day off. German/Austrian prisoners in nearby compound. Austrians very clean and musical. Given jobs in canteen, a change from the rather careless and dirty Maltese cooks and servers.
Sat 16 June
To Valetta “Arundel Castle” in harbour. Demob. Groups 4-7 sailed off to England.
Fri 29 June
Office party for those being demobbed. Our office now very depleted of British personnel, who are less and less with more Maltese officers taking over.
Sat 7 July
To Valetta watched changing of the Guard. Regiments take it in turns to perform this duty. Even our humble Pay Corps take their turn. Looked around Magisterial Palace. ENSA show in evening.
Mon 9 July
Eclipse of the sun
Fri 13 July
Twelve privates three staff sergeants there last night in barracks before demob.
Tues 17 Jul
Watched water polo match at St. George’s Bay. Pitch marked out in the water. Fast returning to peace time activities.
Sun 29 Jul
Lido at St. George’s Bay officially opened. Boating for an hour. St. Julian to see a fiesta walked down. Vines, prickly pear now in fruit also fields of tomatoes. Crowds at St. Julian’s church and sea front decorated. Burning brazier on roof of church. Statue of the Saint Julian carried in procession. People cheering and clapping as it passed by. Letting off fireworks on the roof of the church as it entered. Two bands playing alternately. Sweets and ice cream on sale. Every one in best frocks, clean shirts etc. No side stalls. Back for 10.30 pm.
Wed 8 Aug
To Valetta. Saw a French boat go out bound for Toulon, carrying leave personnel.
Sat 11 Aug
Received letters from Char with news of confinement and birth of daughter. Fainted for the first time and hoped for the last time ever. Rested pm.
Mon 13 Aug
Very hot. Temperature 101 degrees News of VJ Day.
Wed 15 Aug
To Valetta Flags everywhere. Ships decorated with bunting. Listened to Deputy Governor’s speech from Palace balcony. (Dalrymple Hamilton) Command Hall for show. Fireworks and illuminations after the show. Back 11 pm.
Sat 18 Aug
Bought items of Maltese Lace.
Sun 26 Aug
Ptes Foden and Edwards on leave to U.K. Promise to call on wife and daughter and report back — and they did.
Tues 11 Sep
A Sgt Major and two staff sergeants promoted to officers. Groups 17/18 in embarkation for demobilisation.
Sat 22 September
Groups 19/20 in demobilization camp.
Mon 24 September
Only eight of us now remain.
Note: usual walks, tennis, swimming, letters etc. mixed in, volunteer job helping with Tote, selling tickets, bookies, runner etc. at Mara races. Payment to us for this volunteer job.
Tues 16 Oct
Notice of move from St. George’s Barracks down to Valetta Office to be in flats opposite the Castille. Quarters in the Castille itself.
Fri 19 Oct
Kit etc. collected together for tomorrows move.
Sat 20 Oct
Started move at 7.30 am on all day. No place for us in the Castille. Slip up in arrangements. Parked ourselves in the Conference Room. Moved boxes, tables, chairs etc. etc. up flights of stairs nearly all day.
Sun 21 Oct
Completed the office move. Ourselves allocated to the top floor of the Castille.
Mon 32 Oct
Settled in for usual Pay Office work and routine.
Wed 24 Oct
Chess came into our off duty games, one with D Foden lasting 3 hours.
Thurs 25 Oct
Watched the “Durnottar Castle” leave harbour with group 21 on board.
Wed 31 Oct
Stores pm for issue of shirts with collars and ties which we now are allowed to wear.
Thurs 1 Nov
Able to go down through Lascari’s Ditch and into tunnels the War time HQ where important control rooms were located.
Mon 5 Nov
Battleship “Nelson” in harbour. Visited Rabat and saw the very ancient catacombs.
Sat 10 Nov
Command Hall, a hypnotist being the main attraction with his demonstrations on members selected from the audience.
Tues 13 Nov
Counting Poppy Day Collection. The Pay Office on orders and in conjunction with the Governor had a duty of paying members of the Navy who had entered port. Unfortunately I was never selected for this experience.
Mon 19 Nov
Round Senglea looking at dockyard bomb damage. Cruiser “Ajax” in dry dock.
Thurs 22 Nov
To Rabat and a wedding reception of one of our Sergeants to Miss Vasollo a Maltese lady. Reception held at a hotel in Rabat, not much of a place. Toilets were shocking, outside across the courtyard, swimming with filth. Reception in an upstairs room where bride and bridegroom sat at one end on a raise dais. Guests filed around to shake hands with them. Music and drinks served.
Sun 25 Nov
Round dockyards pm. Bomb damage, Senglea, Cospicua, and Viltororsia.
More stories and pictures including more Leonard Knight’s Diary Extracts of Malta can be found on our Family Memories website: links

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