On 31st March 2019 as part of the forthcoming 40th anniversary of the British Forces leaving Malta in 1979, I most unexpectedly received an invitation from Matthew Balzan, the Curator of Malta Heritage, inviting me to be interviewed for a special presentation to be shown in the Fort St Angelo Malta Heritage Museum.
I was chosen to share my memories of the time I served as the final PA to Commander British Forces Malta, Admiral Sir O.N.A. Cecil, along with LRO(T) David Gilchrist who had lowered the White Ensign for the final time. Our ‘party’ comprised myself, Taff Clegg, the RO who sent the final signal from St Angelo, Patrick Raines, LEM 1967-69, and Clive Bridgeman who was Lord Mountbatten’s 2nd coxswain in Malta 1952-55 in the 1950’s. Although we had been invited for two days, we all stayed for four. After our individual filmed interviews had taken place, bringing to the forefront of our minds recollections of different eras, it was time to enjoy the local hospitality; or would have been if it hadn't been “out of season”! Our old haunts had not disappeared, they were still there, but one bar owner told us he did not open, “because it was raining”! It just meant we had to walk further before ‘swinging the lamp’ could proceed, and did it swing! It was a privilege to spend four days with such amazing characters
If you are thinking of planning a trip, contact Malta Heritage to arrange a guided tour of the newly renovated Fort St Angelo, (which cost 14 million Euros) showing areas and tunnels I never previously knew existed. Malta was my first foreign draft and even though the run-down period was one of mixed emotions, it gave me so many opportunities not readily available at that time, including working on the Royal Yacht and HMS London, with the Admiral and wearing trousers as part of my uniform! I have a photo of me on a barge alongside HMS Ark Royal tied up with ropes, but no explanation springs to mind!
I was extremely honoured to represent the WRNS and shared a memorable visit accompanied with my naval companions. I have let Malta Heritage know of my availability for the 50th anniversary!
Sharon Packman L/Wren Writer (S) Malta Mar 78-Mar79.
Served Oct 75-Oct 84.
Member of Essex Ladies Informal Group