Until her Grandfather died at age of 92 in 1999, Anne G had very little idea of her grandfather’s considerable achievements during WW2. Like many of his generation he never talked to his family about his time in the services.
Anne now shares with us the story she has researched about her maternal Grandfather, William Driver.
William Driver born 24th October 1908 joined the Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment as a gunner on 12th December 1940. For the next two years from 1941 -1943 he served at Fort St Elmo in Malta at the time when it was under siege. Supplies were hard to come by. There wasn’t enough food or ammunition. The Maltese strove to defend their island.
The Islands’ strategic location made it centre stage in the theatre of war in the Mediterranean: a key stronghold from which the Allies could sustain their North African campaign and from which they could launch their eventual attack on mainland Italy. The Islands were subject to some of the most severe bombardments of the entire war.
Malta became a base for Allied attacks on enemy ships plying supply routes to North Africa and on the Italian air and naval bases. In return the Islands were under constant attack, in a game of return fire. The British had only three biplanes on the Islands nicknamed Faith, Hope and Charity. You can see ‘Faith’, now restored, in the National War Museum, Fort St. Elmo, Valletta.
William Driver was there when a bomb fell through the dome and rolled down the aisle then came to rest without exploding. This saved the lives of the whole congregation. To this day that bomb is displayed in the church.
The Maltese people may have ended the war with the distinction of being the only entire population to be awarded the George Cross, Britain’s highest civilian honour for bravery. They also ended the war devastated: Malta holds the record for the heaviest, sustained bombing attack: some 154 days and nights and 6,700 tons of bombs.
It was in this theatre of war that William Driver fought From 1942 – 1943 until, in 1944 he was dispatched to serve under a Canadian division as part of the British Liberation Army in Europe.
Anne is still discovering more about Grandpa William Driver as her research widens. Grandpa William also spent service time in Holland and Belgium before the war ended.
William Driver’s considerable contribution to winning WW2 has been recognised by the award of the following medals:
France and Germany Star
Additionally he was awarded:
The Malta George Cross Fiftieth Anniversary Commemoration Medal. This was presented to him by the Maltese High Commissioner in London