June 16, 2015
In the vicinity of the sinking of the Polish escort destroyer ORP “Kujawiak” and in the Barrakka Gardens Arcade in Valletta, Malta ceremonies were held in conjunction with the unveiling of a commemorative plaque with the names of 13 Polish sailors who perished on June 16, 1942.
It was 73 years ago to the day that the Polish escort destroyer, Hunt Type II Class, was going to the aid of the crew of the British destroyer HMS “Badsworth” which had struck a mine approaching the harbor in Malta. The Maltese Navy patrol boat “P 24” with guests on board sailed to the location of the “Kujawiak” tragedy.
A moment of silence and prayer commemorated the fallen sailors. Wreaths and boquets of flowers were dropped into the sea over the wreck site in the memory of the fallen.
The nearly two-hour ceremony was attended at sea by Jan Stanislaw Ciechanowski – Head of the Office for War Veterans and Victims of Oppression, the Polish ambassador to Malta, employees of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of Polish Army veterans, and members of the Shipwreck Expedition Association (Roman Zajder, Peter Wytykowski, Bartłomiej Grynda, Peter Kardasz, Michal Szczepaniak Mariusz Borowiak), all of whom were part of the September 2014 expedition “The Hunter for L72” which found the wreck
of the “Kujawiak”. Along for the recent expedition, “L-72 A Forgotten Tragedy”, were also Mark “Sharky” Alexander (USA), Dr. Timmy Gambin, prof. Matthew Montebello, and Joseph Sultana of Malta. The main celebration was held the evening in the Barraka Gardens Arcade. The commemorative plaque was unveiled by the Maltese Minister of Justice, Culture, and Local government and JS Ciechanowski.
During their speeches these gentlemen emphasized the special contribution the “Kujawiak” made in the defense of Malta in 1942. Speakers also included Peter Wytykowski, the head of the second international
expedition to the wreck of the “Kujawiak”, Dr. Timmy Gambin (awarded the badge “Distinguished in Polish Culture”), and a representative of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in Poland.
The commemorative plaque was dedicated by a military chaplain. The evening was graced by the Maltese military company.
Additionally, a large group of Poles living in Malta attended the evening’s events. Guests and residents of La Valletta who were gathered at the ceremony witnessed volleys of cannon while the names of the fallen were read.