On the 80th Anniversary of the successful entry of the tanker SS Ohio in Grand Harbour, Fondazzjoni Ċelebrazzjonijiet Nazzjonali (FCN) will be commemorating this great event by a harbour-wide celebration. It was 80 years ago that the biggest assembly of warships and merchants put together in history were prepared for a mission to ‘Save Fortress Malta’.

It was code-named Operation Pedestal - four aircraft carriers, 57 warships and escorts, 14 Merchant ships, 11 Submarines and 102 aircraft were put together to steam through the Mediterranean. Among these, SS Ohio was the fastest tanker available for the mission.

Engaged by President Roosevelt upon the pleas of Winston Churchill the tanker was dispatched to sail to Malta along with the rest of the fleet. Thousands of tons of fuel were onboard to help Malta fight back against the onslaught of the Axis attacks. To the sound of brass bands and cheering crowds, SS Ohio was dragged into the harbour. Malta was saved and now it was time to fight back. Operation Pedestal saved Malta and will forever be in the collective memory.

As part of its remit, duty, and outreach, FCN will commemorate this momentous national occasion in collaboration with Heritage Malta and Fondazjoni Wirt Artna.

On August 15 at 11.45am, the air raid siren at Fort St Elmo’s National War Museum will blast out. At noon, a 21-gun salute will be discharged from the Saluting battery to honour all the seamen and dockhands that risked all so that Malta would live to fight another day.

At 12.30pm,  a salute of fireworks will be fired from Ricasoli the exact spot in which Ohio was dragged to upon its arrival on August 15, 1942.

In the end, the air raid siren will sound once again to denote the end of this most solemn commemoration of Malta’s darkest hour in 1942.

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