It is with great pleasure that I read what Minister Tonio Borg told Parliament recently when he spoke about the shameful events which occurred in Malta in 1942. On February 13, 1942, 43 Maltese were deported and exiled to Uganda by the British colonial government.
My grandfather, Captain Alfred Bencini, was one of them. Together with the others he was placed on the Royal Navy ship, HMS Breconshire. In fact they were all ordered to stay in the hold of the ship meaning they would be first to perish had the ship been torpedoed by the enemy. Strangely enough, his nephew Effie Bencini, then a police officer, was detailed to arrest my grandfather.
Alfred Bencini, Captain of the Royal Anglians during the First World War, returned to Malta a few years later a very sick man mainly suffering from malaria. I vividly remember as a young boy the stories my grandfather used to narrate about his ordeals in Uganda and about the way he and the other Maltese were humiliated by the British.
Dr Borg was right to commemorate the vicissitudes of these brave Maltese citizens who were interned by the British colonial power. On May 4, 1942, the Appeals Court decided that the British Governor's decision to exile these Maltese was ultra vires. Yet the British colonial government had already decided to deport them without waiting for the Appeals Court outcome.
This was a very black chapter in the history of these islands. Similar incidents during the war occurred in Canada and the United States, yet a few years ago these two countries made a public apology to the American and Canadian citizens.
In August 1988, President Ronald Reagan and in November 1990, the Canadian Prime Minister had the courage to make a public apology so that similar events would never occur again.
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.Support Us