On the 80th anniversary of the sinking of HMS Urge, President of Malta George Vella, together with British High Commissioner Katherine Ward, unveiled a monument commemorating the death of its crew while on duty.
During a commemorative event at Fort St Elmo, President Vella stated that the servicemen who lost their lives in HMS Urge underwent the extreme sacrifice to fulfil their oaths of allegiance to the military and naval responsibilities they subscribed to on joining the service.
The President said that, “As a country, whose defence these brave young men were determined to uphold, we think it is more than fit and proper that we set up this memorial for their memory, so they not be forgotten.” President Vella also said that it is now known where the submarine lies – which was lost on the 27th of April 1942, and as well as the names of all the brave young men who lie in this watery grave.
President Vella saluted the memory of the crew of HMS Urge and, through them, also the memory of the many others that lie in their as yet unmarked watery graves, somewhere on the bottom of the sea, where they gave their lives so that we could live.
British High Commissioner Katherine Ward stated that this commemoration highlights the strong and enduring links between the United Kingdom and Malta. Whilst expressing her hope that the monument will forever bear testimony to the crew, she stated that the sacrifices of these men, along with so many others, should remind us not just of the tragedy of war but of the value of freedom, and the triumph of peace.
Minister for the National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government Owen Bonnici said that the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of this tragedy is a fitting tribute to the memory of those who lost their lives. “Let us not forget our past, and in doing so, let us honour the efforts of these young men who sacrificed their lives for our nation in the Second World War”, he said.
Anthony Scicluna, Chairman of Heritage Malta, said that the monument will long bear testimony to the selflessness and bravery of HMS Urge’s crew. He said that the unveiling ceremony has presented a unique opportunity to showcase Malta’s historical beauty and well-known hospitality, and expressed hope that such positive outcomes will always stand out in sharp contrast to the bleakness of war.
The wreck of the Royal Navy submarine HMS Urge and the last resting place of its crew were discovered during a remote sensing survey conducted off the coast of Valletta in 2019. A Heritage Malta and University of Malta dive team, led by Professor Timothy Gambin, descended to the seabed two years later and conclusively identified the wreck as HMS Urge.