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The World War Two Siege of Malta in Numbers

Updated: Jun 1, 2020

Bombed-out ruins in Valletta

270,000 - Population of Malta and Gozo during the war.

1,581 - Civilians killed as a result of enemy action.

3,780 - People injured.

50,000 - People made homeless as a result of enemy bombings. This equates to 18.5% of the total population.

People queueing up for their daily meal from their local Victory Kitchen. During WW2, the people of Malta were to suffer extreme hardship, including the danger of constant bombing and the threat of starvation.

7,500 - Servicemen and merchant seamen killed on operations related to the Battle for Malta. This includes those lost at sea or shot down from the skies.

8 - Air raids on the first day of bombings. The very first raid took place on 11th June 1940 at 6.55 am. The last alert was sounded in Malta just over 4 years later, on 28th August 1944 at 8.45 pm, and the last all-clear at 9 pm.

A Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 bomber of the Italian Regia Aeronautica flying over Valletta during a bombing raid on the Grand Harbour.

3,343 - Total number of air raids recorded over Malta. 2,031 (60%) of these raids came in 1942 alone.

282 - The largest amount of air raids in a single month came in April 1942, the worst month of the war for Malta, which saw the destruction of countless well-known landmarks, such as the Royal Opera House in Valletta, although scores of people were spared when a bomb which hit Mosta Church failed to explode.

2,357 - Total hours spent by the Maltese under air-raids, equivalent to 98 days.

For the duration of the siege, people would be forced to spend long hours and sleepless nights in the underground air-raid shelters. Apart from offering some degree of protection from the near-constant attacks, the shelters also became the new home of those whose houses had been bombed.

154 - Successive days and nights under aerial attack in the Spring of 1942, meaning Malta holds the unenviable record for the heaviest, sustained bombing attack.

1 - 24-hour stretch without a single alert in the whole period of January to June 1942.

15,000 - Tons of bombs dropped on the Maltese Islands, almost 4 times the amount of bombs dropped by the Allies in the notorious attack on Dresden in February 1945.

6,700 - Tons of these bombs were dropped in just 1 month - April 1942.

10,761 - Buildings destroyed, or extensively damaged and needing reconstruction. The vast majority were private dwellings.

The level of carnage and destruction caused by the heavy air raids on Malta is perhaps best epitomised by this image of Victory Street in Senglea following the so-called Illustrious Blitz in January 1941.

20,000 - Other private dwellings suffered damage and had to be repaired.

7,433 - Unexploded bombs dealt with by the Royal Engineers. They were busiest in 1942, with 5,448 (73% of the total).

A small number of specialist bomb disposal teams from the Royal Engineers were kept very busy defusing large numbers of unexploded bombs following - and sometimes during - air raids. The job was extremely perilous as they often had to deal with time delay fuzes, without any idea when the timer was going to run out, as well as anti-tampering devices designed to detonate the bomb as soon as anyone tried to render it safe.

27 - Allied warships or merchant vessels sunk by enemy bombing or mines in Malta’s harbours or in the immediate vicinity.

42 - Anti-aircraft guns to defend Malta in the first week of June 1940, as opposed to the 172 that had been recommended by the Committee of Imperial Defence in July 1939.

369 - British fighter planes shot down while defending Malta from air attack. Another 64 were destroyed on the ground during bombing raids on the airfields.