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Updated 01/09/2015


PM P. Flynn - The Royal Irish Fusiliers

Naxxar is a village in the central north of Malta. 

According to tradition, the people of Naxxar were amongst the first to help the shipwrecked, including Saint Paul, when the ship he was on went aground on the rocks. For this reason many connect the name Naxxar with Nassar (Nasra) which means 'conversion to Christianity'. They also say that Naxxar can derive from the Maltese verb "Naxar" which means to hang up clothes. Others insist that the name comes from “Nsara” or “Nazaroei” which means 'those who believe in the teachings of Christ who came from Nazareth and thus “Nozri”'. Others say that the word Naxxar means 'one who saws, separates or cuts' – it might be worth mentioning that in Naxxar there are a lot of stonemasons. Magri, in his book says that the word naxar comes from “nazar” which in Jewish means “chosen for him” or else “one who keeps to himself”. This is because in the vicinity the Arabs had formed a village that they called Hal Muselmiet, which means 'the village of the Muslims'. For this reason the Christians started another village – that of the Christians and so the name of Naxxar.

Beginning on January 11, 1938, the 2nd Battalion of The Royal Irish Fusiliers was stationed in Malta and the nearby island of Gozo. Strategically situated at the narrowest part of the Mediterranean Sea, whoever controlled Malta controlled the Mediterranean.

On June 10th, 1940, the island was subjected to continuous attack and bombing from the Italian and German air forces. The German Navy sank most of the ships that tried to re-supply the island people and their defenders. It was only when the Axis forces began to be defeated in North Africa from August 1942, that supplies got through and in May 1943 the siege of Malta was finally over.

The diary of Major John Shepherd from Armagh records that when the first ships got through the soldiers and inhabitants had only cabbage and water left to eat, all animals from goats to rats and all birds had been eaten. All through the siege, the people of Malta refused to surrender to the Axis Forces and in recognition of this, King George VI awarded the George Cross to the island. The islanders knew that they could not have survived without the steadfast Royal Irish Fusiliers who suffered significant casualties, twenty-one of whom are buried in Malta’s war cemeteries.