1980 - 1985
The formation of the Task Force officially
took place on the 1st April, 1980. What had hitherto been 1st
Regiment AFM was placed under the command of Colonel John N Cachia,
whose appointment as Commander Task Force was published in the
Malta Government Gazette Notice No. 203 dated 1st April 1980.
At the time of its formation, Task Force
consisted of a Headquarters, an Infantry Company, a Maritime Squadron
and a Helicopter Flight. The total strength at the time of formation
was under 500. In order to augment this strength and allow the
Task Force to fulfil the role for which it was set up, four Police
Officers and a number of police personnel were transferred to
this Force on the same day of its formation.
The roles of the Task Force were:
a. To maintain surveillance and security
over the Maltese Islands and their Territorial Waters.
b. To assist in case of natural and
c. To assist in the infrastructure
of the Islands.
d. To provide security and investigation
of criminal offences as empowered by law.
It was immediately apparent that the organisation and strength as it stood was not adequate to meet the role assigned to it. Steps were immediately taken by the Commander to embrace other military sections into the Force thus enabling it to maintain complete surveillance and security over the Maltese island and their Territorial Waters.
Within a short space of time the Task
Force became responsible for the Ammunition Depot, the Explosives
Ordinance Disposal Section and the Airport Company. This enabled
the Task Force to exercise better control and to co-ordinate all
the requirements necessary for its smooth running. Naturally,
with these acquisitions the volume of work increased enormously
and each member of the Force made an extra effort to guarantee
In July 1981 the Government opened up
engagement in the new Corp. Id-Dejma . Recruits were enlisted
for a period of 15 months. Of the total enlistments, approximately
560 men were recruited into the Task Force, smaller numbers were
recruited into the Malta Police Force and 2nd Support Regiment AFM. By
December 1981, therefore the strength of the Task Force had increased to
approximately 1000; this being almost double that at which it stood on its
formation. The Force was then adequately staffed to perform the duties which
developed upon it.
Since 1981 there have been four Dejma
groups enlisted and it is on these groups that Task Force depended
for the main bulk of its manpower. Each group enlisted was adequately
trained and prepared for its duties with the Task Force, although there
were times when it would have been desirable to devote more time
to initial training. However training did not
end with basic training and further continuous training took place
throughout their engagement.
The Task Force Colours depicting the
emblem of the new Force incorporates the 'Wing', the 'Anchor'
and the 'Rifle' which represents the three major Units.
It is quite impossible to cover all
aspects of the Task Force let alone give a detailed account of
all the work carried out. Task Force has been involved in all
major incidents such as Hijack Drama of the Libyan Arab Airlines
Aircraft in 1983, the capture of the contraband schooner Ciccolina
in the Gozo Channel, the rescuing of children in difficulties
at sea and many more incidents which are too numerous to mention.
A NEW EXPERIENCE FOR THE AFM
The Malta Armed Forces (AFM) made history
when 70 young women on September 3rd 1982 marched in the first
ever parade by female soldiers in the Island. In their first
parade, the smartly-dressed girls showed they had already reached
a fine level of drill, uniformity and discipline.
The parade was held to mark the termination
of the girls' Military Training which lasted four weeks under
the guidance of Captain M. Caruana Dingli.
This is the first group of girls who
have joined the Dejma and ended their Military Course. In all,
300 young women were recruited into the Dejma.
CORPS OF DRUMS FOR AFM BAND
A newly-formed Corps of Drums, part
of the Armed Forces Of Malta band was inaugurated on the 11th
December 1982 by the Minister of Interior, Mr. Lorry Sant, during
a display on Palace Square in Valletta.
The band accompanied by the Corps of
Drums, left from in front of the Hotel Phoenicia, Floriana, marched
down Republic Street and proceeded to Palace Square. The Minister
accompanied by the bandmaster, Captain A. Chircop, Major R. Montanaro,
and Col. John Spiteri, Commander of the AFM, inspected the bandsmen.
The ceremony was followed by a band display.
Out of 82 bandsmen, 54, aged between
18 and 35, were enlisted in July after completing their basic
military. In addition to performing band duties, all the members
of the AFM band are fully-trained soldiers.
The AFM band was the largest military
band ever to be formed by Maltese troops. It was also the first
time regular forces of the AFM had a Corps of Drums section.
PASSING OUT PARADE FOR AFM OFFICER
Ten officer cadets in the armed Forces
of Malta became Second Lieutenants in April 1987 when they held
their pass-out parade at Luqa barracks.
This was the first such parade ever
held in Malta. Prior to 1970, officer cadets held their parade
abroad on completion of training there, and no officer cadet pass-out
were held since 1970.
This parade was held on completion by
the cadets of a year long course which included five months of
training at an Italian infantry school in Cesano near Rome. This
was also the first time, since 1970 that officer cadets had received
training abroad. The officer in charge of the whole course was
Lieutenant C. Farrugia. The parade was held before Prime Minister,
Dr. Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici, AFM Commander Colonel John
and the Deputy Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Sammut Tagliaferro.
AMALGAMATION OF THE ARMED FORCES
OF MALTA AND THE TASK FORCE
The organisation of the newly amalgamated
Armed Forces of Malta on the 11th May 1988 consists of a Headquarters
1st Regiment, comprising all units formerly forming part of the
Task Force, a 2nd Regiment and the AFM Depot.
The parade marking the amalgamation
of the Armed Forces of Malta and the Task Force, was held on the
Palace Square in Valletta. It consisted of two detachments, each
of 60 all ranks from the AFM and Task Force, the Task colours
and the AFM band.
The parade then accorded salutes to
the Commander Task Force, Colonel Maurice Calleja, and the Commander
AFM, Brigadier John Spiteri. Upon arrival, the Prime Minister Dr. Eddie
Fenech Adami was accorded a National Salute.
After he inspected the parade, accompanied
by the Parade Commander and the two Force Commanders, the Task
Force Colours marched off the Square and the order given for the
AFM and the Task Force to amalgamate. the Band struck up the
'Auld Lang Syne' while four buglers from the centre of the square
played a 'moving' accompanying fanfare. The two detachments from
the separate forces advanced in slow march towards one another
and infiltrated each of the ranks, ended up in a symbolic unification
of the two forces.
The 'amalgamated' detachment then marched
past in fours in quick time, after which they Advanced in Review
Order to accord another National Salute to the Prime Minister.
The parade then stood at ease while
an address was made by the Prime Minister. At the end of his
speech the Prime Minister was escorted by Brigadier Spiteri and
Colonel Calleja to the dais for a final salute by the troops as
they marched past.
THE LAYING-UP OF THE TASK FORCE
Officers and men of the Task Force,
which had re-amalgamated with the AFM, on Sunday morning took
part in a parade during which the Task Force Colours were laid
up at St John's Co-Cathedral.
The Colours now hang among the Colours
of former regiments in the Oratory. The short ceremony started
at St. John's Square where the parade, under Captain Carmelo Vassallo
accorded salutes to Lieut. Colonel Claude Gaffiero, the former
Deputy Commander of the Task Force and now commanding Officer
of the 1st Regiment AFM, and Colonel Maurice Calleja former Task
Force Commander and Deputy Commander of the AFM. Colonel Calleja
inspected the parade which then presented arms as the Colour Party
marched into the Co-Cathedral.
The National Colour, was presented to
the Vicar General Mgr. Carmelo Xuereb, by Colonel Calleja, while
the Task Force was presented to Fr. Patrick Cachia, chaplain of
the Armed Forces, by Lieut.Col.Gaffiero.
The Colours had been presented to the
Task Force by the late President Dr. Anton Buttigieg, on the 29th
PRESENTATION OF COLOURS TO THE A.F.M.
National and Regimental
presented to the Armed forces of Malta by the Acting President
Mr. Paul Xuereb during a parade held under a blazing sun on the
Palace Square, Valletta on the 23rd June 1988. Taking part in
the parade were four squads of 33 soldiers each and the band.
The National Colour presented showed
a tower and a scroll with the words 'Forzi Armati' which
means 'Armed Forces', superimposed with the Regimental Badge.
The Regimental Colour showed the regimental insignia under which
is shown the motto of the AFM "Tutela Bellicae Virtutis"
on a scroll with the grenade symbol at each of the four corners
and other scrolls showing the AFM battle honours.
A SHORT HISTORY OF THE REGIMENTAL
The origin of the custom of carrying
Colours goes back to the early days of history, when badges of
identification were fixed to a pole which was held aloft on battle
for the dual purpose of indicating position and acting as a rallying
point. Medieval chivalry followed the same idea when armorial
bearings were placed on their banners so that these could be seen
well above the melee. When armies were beginning to adopt a system
of regimentation at the beginning of the 17th century each company
was allotted a Colour, a custom which persisted for about a hundred
Standards and Guidons have evolved from
the banners of the knights of the Middle Ages. The Standard
(a square banner) was then carried by a knight; the Guldon (an
ensign or standard ending with a tall or point, now swallow tailed)
being carried by a bannerette. When a bannerette was created
a knight the point of his Guidon was cut off, thus transforming
it into a Standard.
The Parent Regiment of the present Armed
Forces of Malta is the Royal Malta Artillery. In the British
Amy, the colours in a Regiment of Artillery is its guns. When
on parade on ceremonial occasions, the guns are accorded the same
compliments as the Standards, Guidons and Colours of the Cavalry
and Infantry. The guns became the Colours Regiment through the
practice in early history of carrying the senior colour on the
largest piece in an artillery train, which was designated the
'Flag Gun'. The Flag Gun was used until the end of the 18th Century
and after this period the Guns themselves came to be regarded
as the colours of the Artillery.
Since the middle of the eighteenth century
Infantry Regimental Colour were allowed two colours - the Sovereign
colour and the Regimental Colour. The practice of carrying Colours
into action continued until the beginning of 1881 during the first
Boer War in South Africa, when the custom was discontinued because
of the altered form of attack and the increased range of musketry.
This was the first time that the recently
re-amalgamated Armed Forces of Malta had their own Colours.
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last modified: April 1997