A view of Fort
Campbell from the road leading to the same fortification.
From this distance the fort cannot be seen very clearly
because of its thin walls
Pillboxes were not the only type
of fortifications built at Mellieha in the years before the outbreak
of the Second World War. There were other minor military structures
but the most important fortification to be built in Mellieha, and
the last fort to be built in Malta by the British, was Fort Campbell.
A rear view
of one of the 6-inch guns guarding the approaches to St.
Paul’s Bay. (Source: NWMA).
The main scope for the building of Fort Campbell was to protect
the approaches for Mellieha and St. Paul’s Bays. That is
because there were no defences to protect these two approaches
and so, a decision was taken to build a new fort on Il-Blata,
at the end of the Selmun promontory. Governor Bonham-Carter, while
on tour around the Island, visited the site where Fort Campbell
was to be built. Although the building of Fort Campbell is reported
to have begun in 1937 it seems that till 1 December 1937 no work
had been started on this site. 1 Probably the work started at
the very end of the same year.
eye view of Fort Campbell. (Source: The Fortifications
of Malta 1530-1945: From the Knights of Malta to British
The new fort was designed to mount two 6-inch guns.2 Bonham-Carter
insisted that the work on this fort had to be hurried up,3 because
after the Munich Crises of September 1938 4 it was seen that a
war was coming, and all the fortifications being built had to
be finished as quickly as possible.5 It is important to note that
the design of this fort reflected the need to contend with a new
threat in the form of aerial bombardment. So protection against
air attack had become a vital consideration. 6
One of the
machine-gun bunkers in the perimeter wall of Fort Campbell
facing St. Paul’s Bay.
The main characteristic of the British fortifications of the
late 19th century was the thick ramparts and ditches. But by this
time these characteristics were abandoned in favour of thin walls.
Therefore, Fort Campbell was built with a thin wall to resemble
the field walls of the surrounding countryside, while the plan
was broken up by an irregular trace designed to imitate the pattern
of the adjoining terraced fields. Perimeter defence was provided
by a number of machine-gun posts placed at irregular intervals
and in other places there were few rifle loopholes.
Internally, the fort’s buildings were all scattered in
order not to create any concentration. 7 The buildings of the
fort included the command post, gun emplacements, water tank,
direction posts, barrack accommodation and magazines. Its most
important structure was the Battery Observation Post (BOP), which
was situated roughly in the middle of the area and faced north.
in a corner of the internal wall.
Fort Campbell had also Defence Electric Lights (Searchlights),
which were situated a considerable distance away from the fort
and situated along the shoreline to the north. There were three
emplacements for searchlights, two of which were sited at the
edge of the cliff overlooking the small island of St. Paul’s,
while the third was placed closer down by the sea farther west.
6-inch gun emplacement facing St. Paul’s Islets
1 J. Manduca (ed)., The Bonham-Carter Diaries 1936-40: What
the British Governor though of Malta and the Maltese, Malta, 2004,
2. Stephen C. Spiteri, The British Military Architecture in
Malta, Malta, 1996, p 351
3. Manduca, p 225
4. E. Jablonski., A pictorial history of the World War II years,
United States, 1977, p 19-20.
5. Manduca, p 225
6. Spiteri, p 351
7. Spiteri, p 353.
8. Spiteri, p 354.
9. Spiteri, p 357.
Researched and Written by: Charles
Debono B.A.(Hons) History