Birgu Dom Mintoff Freedom Day
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Ceremony marks end of British military base in Malta

Description

 

The last minute of 31st March 1979 marked the end of an era as Malta ceased to be a British military base for the first time in 180 years.

Thousands of people crammed into the square in Vittoriosa, others watched from the boats crowded near the foreshore or viewed the event on live television.

The focus of the evening was at the Vittoriosa seafront where distinguished guests gathered for the flag-raising ceremony.

Prime Minister Dom Mintoff arrived just five minutes before the ceremony began.

Moments later a young British sailor, Signalman David Gilchrist, 23, of HMS London, slowly hauled down the Union Jack, carefully wrapped it round his left arm, then moved forwards to shake hands with Carmel Boxall, 22, of Vittoriosa, an employee of the Malta Public Works Department.

There were cheers and applause as the Union Jack was slowly lowered with more cheering and clapping a minute later when Alfred Xuereb, 45, of Cospicua, a dockyard welder, hoisted the Maltese flag. A police bugler, PC Richard Cauchi, 28, of Hamrun, stood by.

The four men are represented in bronze to this day on the monument that celebrates the historic day in Vittoriosa.

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