During WW ll, Malta was the most bombed area of the entire conflict. Peter Smith tells the extraordinary story of the German bomb which landed in a crowded church in Mosta – but failed to explode.
Malta has an area of just over 120 square miles and within this land there are over 300 churches, in fact, 360 at the last count. But, of all these churches none has a story that can rival that of the church in Mosta.
During World War II, Malta was the most bombed area of the whole conflict, more bombs falling on this island in two months of 1941 than on London during the whole of the Blitz.
This relentless bombing destroyed around 30,000 buildings, killing almost 2,000 civilians, though on 9th April 1942 three hundred civilians had what can only be described as a miraculous escape.
The town of Mosta was below the direct flight path of enemy bombers heading for, or returning from, the R.A.F. base at Ta Qali, but the island’s devout Catholic population were convinced that Malta would not fall to the enemy. Whenever a raid was imminent, many of Mosta’s inhabitants ignored the air raid shelters and took refuge in their church, praying for deliverance.
They did this on the afternoon of 9th April 1942 and, at just after half past four, a 500kg Luftwaffe bomb smashed through the church’s dome and landed inside. Smashing against one wall, it then rolled across the floor of the church and stopped.
It failed to explode and neither did two other bombs which had bounced off the dome and landed in the square outside. The congregation were quickly ushered outside with not a single injury to anyone.
News of this remarkable event quickly spread throughout the island and it wasn’t long before people were describing it as a miracle and also a sign that the island would be spared.