2017 Silver Proof €10 - Santa Marija Convoy & George Cross Award

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In 2017, the Central Bank of Malta issued a Silver Proof numismatic coin to mark the 75th anniversary of the award of the George Cross to Malta, in April 1942, and the arrival of the providential convoy codenamed 'Pedestal' in August 1942. 

   

A ruthless bombing campaign by the Axis forces reached its peak during the months of March and April 1942. During the latter month alone 7,000 tons of bombs were dropped on Malta. The island's heroic defence against insurmountable odds prompted King George VI to award the George Cross to Malta "to honour her brave people".

Malta was almost completely isolated at the time and heroic and extremely costly efforts to resupply Malta were unsuccessful. In July 1942 it was decided to run a heavily escorted convoy from Gibraltar. The convoy, codenamed Pedestal, consisted of thirteen merchant ships and the tanker Ohio, escorted by forty-four warships including two battleships and three aircraft carriers. Only four merchant ships managed to arrive in Malta and on 15 August 1942, the feast day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, the heavily damaged Ohio, towed by two destroyers, limped into the Grand Harbour. Although it did not guarantee long-term salvation, Operation Pedestal, known locally as the 'Santa Marija' convoy, brought enough supplies to maintain Malta's defences and stave off surrender.

The coin, struck at the Royal Dutch Mint, shows the emblem of Malta and the year of issue 2017 on the obverse. On the reverse the coin depicts the tanker 'Ohio' with a Royal Navy destroyer in the background. This pays tribute to the heroic sacrifice made by the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy to keep Malta supplied during the Second World War. The coin also depicts the George Cross - a tangible symbol which honours and perpetuates the bravery of the Maltese at the height of the Island's wartime ordeal. 


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