The Siege Bell Memorial

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Arriving in Valletta on the Sliema ferry for our first exploration of the city, we were lucky enough to be approached by a charming driver in a horse and carriage offering us a "special price" for a tour of the city (60 euros I think). We didn't haggle and, as a result, we had a relaxing and informative tour during which our driver was happy to stop at any of the tourist spots for as long as we wanted. When we arrived at The Siege Bell Memorial, the clouds cleared and I climbed the steps to gain a closer look at the magnificent bell and the memorial which looks out over The Grand Harbour.

I had been profoundly moved to learn that the entire population of Malta was awarded the George Cross for bravery during the Second World War. This monument had been assembled courtesy of the George Cross Island Association to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the presentation of this award to Malta. It is located high up in a secluded area close to the Lower Barakka Gardens on a spot that marks the furthermost point of Valletta within the Grand Harbour. At midday the bell – the largest in Malta, cast in Loughborough, England in 1992 – is tolled in commemoration of 7,000 fallen heroes. . The belfry is surrounded by columns rising from a high base designed on the plan inspired from the form of the George Cross. Further from the belfry a bronze catafalque (raised bier) symbolising the burial of the corpse of the unknown soldier at sea, looks out across the harbour. A plaque at the front of the plinth contains the quote "At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them."

I was grateful to the carriage driver for allowing me time to reflect quietly and shed a few tears.

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