Covered himself with bed sheet, saying he was Jesus – wanted to leave the navy
Heritage Malta is inviting members of the public and British royal navy veterans to attend the Memory Box activity next Friday at the fort which the British considered as their warship in the Grand Habour.
Elaine Zerafa and Charlie Galea are among over 300 royal navy veterans still alive who, between 1906 and 1979, served in the navy’s base at Fort Sant Angelo in Vittoriosa.
They recounted their experiences in the navy, including the story of a sailor who wanted to leave the military service without paying, walked from the Bighi hospital to Fort St Angelo dressed only in a white bed sheet to try to impress the navy’s psychiatrist that he suffered from mental health.
“He insisted on walking around and talking to the birds, the trees and the plants, and told us he was Jesus, and we had to do lots of psychiatric tests and we realised in the end that he was actually working his ticket, so I’m afraid the sheet disappeared, he was back in uniform and was sent back to his ship,” Elaine Zerafa said.
On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the closure of the British military base in Malta, Heritage Malta in March organised an interactive exhibition, Behind Closed Doors, at St Angelo during which 21 veterans of the royal navy were interviewed about their experiences.
Charliet Galea said, “it is sad that you no longer find cooperation from elderly persons, because history is beautiful and it is useful for our children and grandchildren to learn about past events”.
On Friday, Heritage Malta will welcome British navy veterans to meet at Fort St Angelo and they may record short interviews on their memories. The fort’s curator Matthew Balzan also appealed to those who possess information, photos or other objects to bring them forward and also donate them so that the fort may enlarge its national collection.
The exhibition will include over 50 objects, such as uniforms and naval documents, which form part of the national collection.