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The Story of a British Boy's Grave in Malta

The War Illustrated, Volume 6, No. 141, Page 330, November 13, 1942.

It is good to know that in the midst of the most savage and inhuman war in the world's history and at a spot where its terrors are possibly concentrated to a degree that is not reached at any other point of the conflict, the humanities which make life tolerable and which have ever been associated with the British character and with the races that have gladly accepted the way of life which has made Britain the great civilizer, still persist, and cannot be destroyed by all the bombs that Germany may rain upon it. A little story, which should have a peculiar interest for The War Illustrated readers, will serve as well as many far more important that might be told.

In August last one of our readers, Mrs. Williams, of Normanton, Yorkshire, wrote to the Editor to tell him that her only son, First Class Boy Ronald D. Williams, who "gave his life taking things to Malta that it needs from England", had been killed on the island during one of its thousands of air raids. "We ourselves", wrote the mother, "will never probably see the cemetery or look on his grave, but we should love to possess a picture of it". How was this to be achieved?

Fortunately, as our readers will be aware, we have a large number of enthusiastic followers of The War Illustrated in the Ilse of Heroes, and several young Maltese – than whom there are none more enthusiastically British – have written from time to time to the Editor. One in particular, John Mizzi, has had the honour of several appearances in our pages; his latest contribution being included in No. 138 at page 253, and it occurred to the Editor that here was a likely medium whereby the sorrowing mother in Yorkshire might be put in possession of the much-desired memento of her boy's last resting-place in that Mediterranean island, with whose dust any Briton might be glad to think his own might mingle, for Malta is surely as much a part of Britain today as Yorkshire itself. John Mizzi quickly responded to our appeal, and by the middle of October we had the satisfaction of sending to Mrs. Williams the photographs which appear in this page, together with a larger one of the individual grave.

For this, thanks go first to the enterprise and enthusiasm of our seventeen-year-old correspondent in doing this fine service for the sake of the dead boy of his own age whose grave is one of the many additions to those of the British sailors that lie in the Naval Cemetery of Malta. The Editor is taking this way of expressing his thanks to his gifted young correspondent and would also make special mention of the kindly consideration with which Major Wells of the Malta War Graves Commission received the suggestion and granted every facility for the taking of the photographs. These will bring comfort to many mothers other than that of First Class Boy, Ronald Williams, in the knowledge that wherever their sons have made the great sacrifice for Britain, and the British way of life, they are certain to be honoured in their death if fortunate enough to meet it on territory where British control is effective. It will not escape the reader's notice that in the view of the Malta cemetery reproduced above, with its suggestion of the tree-shaded "God's acre" of our homeland, suffered inevitably in the bombing of the island.

The foregoing must on no account be taken to imply that The War Illustrated can undertake similar inquiries for other readers, as that would be quite impracticable at this time.


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