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Joseph and Family

Second World War Senglea

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Carmelo Rizzo
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Carmelo Rizzo

Maria Assuta Barberi

The Rizzo family has been proud residents of the old city of Senglea at least since 1748, when Felice Rizzo immigrated from Pantelleria (It.) to Malta and, here, he married Rose Mangion, a Maltese girl, on February 8th, 1748.
Generations later, precisely on July 8th, 1907, my father, Carmelo Rizzo, was born to Emmanuel and Bernarda, ne้ Grech, still residing within this walled city. He was baptized Carmelo, Salvatore, Vincenzo, and was the older of two children, for he had a younger sister named Emanuela (known as Lela to family and friends). This was the 9th generation of the Rizzo family.
The Rizzo’s lived in the area known as "San Filippo, L-Isla"  where my father, Carmelo, attended the Government Elementary School as a child. Carmelo Rizzo As a young man, he became a member of the Senglea Independent Theatrical Company, founded by Salvatore Saliba on June 20th, 1922, under the direction of Gaetano Casaletto. These local young men and women were producing some famous productions and entertaining the masses. It is highly possible that the Senglea Independent Theatrical Company was among the first of such companies in Malta. Later in life,
CARMELO met Maria-Assunta Rita, Barberi, a young local girl, whom he married on July 4th, 1937, at the Senglea parish church -- dedicated to Our Lady of the Victory. The couple raised eight children; I being their firstborn (on August 20th, 1938, on the eve of the War) followed by my brother Johnny a year later, now at the onset of World War 2. At this time, the young family's humble beginnings were at '38 Strada San Giuseppe' in Senglea, but what a dark fate awaited our beloved harbour town! International Upheaval In Europe, by September 3rd, 1939, Germany had mobilized her troops into Czechoslovakia and later into Poland, causing Great Britain and France to declare war on Hitler's Reich. The turbulence moved southwards into the Mediterranean when, in June of 1940, Italy joined the war as Germany's ally. In the words of Malta's British Governor, Lt. General William Dobie, this meant that Italy was also at war with Malta (then a British colony and Naval Base). Thus, Malta became heavily involved in the conflict. During the Second World War, Carmelo, like many other Maltese men, enlisted in the Royal Malta Artillery (RMA); others joined the King's Own Malta Regiment, the Royal Army Service, the Royal Medical Corps, the Royal Engineers, the Royal Navy and the RAF. From what I could gather, for the information available is rather sketchy, my dad appears to have been involved in the Dockyard Defense Battery, the members of which -- on April 28th, 1941 - given the option of joining the Royal Malta Artillery, which dad apparently did and he served with the 3rd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment as a gunner. He was stationed at Corradino (Kordin) Barracks. If anyone can supply me with any information whatsoever about this unit, please email me. It would be very much appreciated. I can be reached at: or My Wartime Childhood My very early recollections are of dark skies full of searchlights. During one particular air raid - which I remember - a bomb fell close to our home and its blast caused the front door to blow in. A flying splinter hit my grandfather, Felice Barberi, in his left eye and, as a result, he lost it.
I recall my father coming home on a motorbike to see us at Cannon Bonnici Street in Hamrun, where the family had taken refuge during the war. By 1946, my family - which by now included my brother Johnny and new baby sister Mary - moved back to Senglea, where eighty percent of the buildings were either demolished or heavily damaged. My father, Carmelo, suffered a depression soon after the war and was hospitalized. I remember mum taking us to see our father and that's probably why he never wanted to talk about the war. It must have been very hard for him. Soon afterwards, however, dad recovered and was employed at the Superintendent Naval Store Office (S.N.S.O.) - Dockyard Department - at Cospicua until he retired as a charge-man in 1960. Dad passed way on Thursday, January 2nd, 1986, aged 78. During this cruel war the Maltese people had played an important part in holding out till the end, thus contributing towards the allied victory. There were many words of praise uttered in honour of Malta, but a Frenchman Admiral by the name Beloit had apparently the correct words, and I quote: "If Great Britain saved the world…little Malta saved the Mediterranean…"
Joseph Victor Rizzo 30 April 2002
Senglea at WW11
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