The Australian High Commissioner to Malta, Her Excellency Ms Jane Lambert, told News Corp Australia that she would like to see Australia Hall in Pembroke, Malta restored as a place for the community to use.
According to an article published on the news.com.au website last Sunday, the Australian Government has yet to step in financially but has made it clear it would like to have the building restored as a meeting or conference centre as a continuing memorial to the thousands of Anzac troops who used the hall. Final decisions are not expected to be made for some months.
Ms Lambert said the fact it was built on Australian donations at the time of the Turkish campaign was indicative Australians at the time understood its worth.
“I think it has a very strong place in the history of the Gallipoli and the ANZAC story but perhaps it has been a story that has not been well known,” she said.
“That is quite surprising even when you consider just the statistics. There were about 55,000 troops from the Gallipoli campaign brought to Malta for care, so it is surprising their experiences here were not recorded or understood in any way outside the local Maltese community. The 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign and also the centenary of the First World War is a time for reflection and looking back in history and making sure we haven’t forgotten the important things that need to be remembered,” she said.
Malta Heritage Trust chairman Mario Farrugia also wants restoration, whether by the new developers or the Australian Government through a trust arrangement. He said there had been about 800 Maltese volunteers who went to Gallipoli as muleteers or to dig the trenches and some even fought within the Australian ranks or worked as stevedores unloading the ships. There are about 300 Anzacs buried in Malta, dying from wounds suffered in Gallipoli.
An inscription on the Australia Hall building, which still shows the Australian coat of arms, states: “This building was erected in November 1915 by the Australian Branch of the British Red Cross Society for the benefit of the soldiers of the Empire.”
Australian High Commissioner in Malta calls for restoration of Australia Hall for community use
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