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This thesis examines Malta's symbolic role in the Second World War. Then a British-held colony, the archipelago fell under heavy Axis bombardment from mid 1940 ' early 1943. Incessant Italian and German air raids plagued the islands and the Maltese, making Malta the most heavily bombed area of the entire war. In June 1940, just weeks before the first attack, London's War Cabinet deemed the isles indefensible and withdrew their forces. Despite this initial abandonment, the British permanently returned to their colony just a few months later and expended a considerable amount of manpower and materiel in its defense. Tactical reasons alone cannot explain this drastic reversal in British policy. The missing explanation lies with Malta's role in British propaganda. Whether by choice or ignorance, this crucial aspect of Malta's wartime purpose is absent from the historiography. Through an examination of official papers and popular periodicals, this thesis aims to correct this imbalance. To provide proper context, the work first analyzes Anglo-Maltese relations and the empire's position in the latter half of the 1930s. The subsequent chapters analyze the media's role in the War Cabinet's return, and how Prime Minister Winston Churchill used the gallant tale of Malta to bolster morale at home and elicit the cooperation of the United States. Paired with strategic objectives around the Mediterranean basin, these propagandistic concerns ensured Britain's continued defense of the archipelago. Through the war's end, Malta served as both a physical and ideological bastion for the British Empire.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of History in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts.
Includes bibliographical references.
James P. Jones, Professor Directing Thesis; Michael Creswell, Committee Member; Jennifer Koslow, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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