Valletta, Malta

The port city of Valletta, Malta was visited by the Kearsarge and Wisconsin from January 14th to the 19th and was visited by the Illinois from January 17th to the 19th.  Finding items from this port visit has proven difficult.  The port was a British naval base and the presence of the American Battleships was not anything of significance.  There were no welcomes, or special occasions, no souvenirs, or parades.  The ships visited and the crew had a chance for liberty to see the city.



chapel of bones

What sailor could resist a visit to the Chapel of Bones while visiting Valletta?  In 1619 a Roman CAtholic Chapel was built in Valletta and, in 1852 the chapel within was decorated with bones from the adjacent cemetery.  The chapel was heavily damaged by aerial bombardment in 1941, however the crypt might still survive intact!  The chapel's ruins were demolished in the late 1970s leaving only a few remains at the site.  The remains of the chapel, which includes Nibbia's sarcophagus, re not found in a cordoned area in the car park of the Evans Building.


Cards and souvenirs from this port visit are scarce.  Three ships in a 5 day visit does not generate a lot of material.  Much of it gets lost in the British mail from the period and finding something that went back to the states during these dates is certainly from one of the battleships.  Malta was not a tourist destination in 1909.  The cards below are from the M. R. Battey collection.  Battey was an ordinary seaman on the Missouri who purchased postcards from one of the shipboard photographers in the fleet


a great card!!!

This is one of 4-cards that I have in my collection sent by Fred Frietsch, USS Illinois.  The others from Port Townsend, Trinidad, and Rio de Janeiro.  This one is most interesting because he is writing on January 9, 1909 while the ship was in Cairo, but it does not go out in the mail until January 18, 1909 while the ship is in Valletta, Malta and receives a local postage stamp and cancel.  It is interest that Fred chose to take the card ashore and mail it in the local post vs. it getting set out in the ship's mail.  Possibly he was out of postage stamps?



The two cards at right are from a collection of cards the E. V. Hubbard, USS Wisconsin saved from the cruise.  Hubbard was a great collector of cards from every port, but the portion of the collection I have were not mailed.  I have the items that he saved and were mailed to him while he was on the ship.


The pair of cards to the left were mailed home by William Burgess, a Boatswain's Mate Second Class on the USS Kearsarge.  My collection includes cards from throughout the cruise that William sent to his family.




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