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National War Museum (Malta)

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The National War Museum was a museum located in part of Fort Saint Elmo in the city of Valletta, Malta from 1975 to 2014. Its collection mainly focused on World War I and World War II, and it was one of the most popular museums in Malta.

Location

The museum was located in the Old Drill Hall of Lower Saint Elmo. The building was originally a gunpowder magazine, that was converted into an armoury in around 1853. Anti-aircraft gun crews were trained there during World War II.

Lower Saint Elmo is the lower part of Fort Saint Elmo, built in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was built after the original star fort (Upper Saint Elmo) and the outer fortifications (Carafa Enciente), and is the most dilapidated part of the fort.

Collections

World War II Bofors 40 mm anti-aircraft gun at the National War Museum

The museum’s most important collection related to World War II. There were various photographic panels showing life in Malta during the war, especially the hardships of civilian life and damage from aerial bombardment. One of the highlights included the fuselage of a Gloster Sea Gladiator N5520, the only survivor from the Hal Far Fighter Flight. The museum also contained a Willys Jeep ‘Husky’ used by Dwight D. Eisenhower before the invasion of Sicily and also by Roosevelt while visiting Malta. A replica George Cross that was awarded to Malta by King George VI in April 1942, was also on display at the museum. The collection also contained wreckage from crashed aircraft, captured German machine guns, a torpedo, trench mortars and other weapons.

Parts of the museum also contained artifacts from the French occupation of Malta (1798-1800) and the First World War (1914-1918).

Closure

The museum closed to the public on 21 September 2014. Its collections are to be transferred to a new museum in another part of Fort Saint Elmo, which is to open in the near future after restoration of the fort is complete. The new museum’s collection will be larger, and it will cover eras from prehistory onwards.

Date:April 23, 2015

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