Features Operation Pedestal Victory Kitchens


As the siege of Malta intensified supplies became precariously low and in January 1942 the Government decided that it made sense to cook the food for the community in one go to eliminate wastage and it decided to tackle the situation by setting up community kitchens, known as Victory Kitchens, throughout the island. The first of these community kitchens opened in Lija in January 1942 and by June 1942 there were 42 Victory Kitchens. In January 1943 more than 175,536 people were receiving a cooked meal from these kitchens, where the food would be collected to be eaten at home. Penalties for being caught stealing food at this time were very harsh and stealing a couple of slices of bread could land you in prison for four months!

Those who registered with Victory Kitchens were required to surrender part of their family ration of fats, preserved meat and tinned fish rations in return for a cooked meal that consisted partly of the surrender portion and partly of un-rationed commodities. Authentic meals served at the Victory Kitchens included hot pot meals, e.g. pork and goat stews

Gozo however had sufficient food to sustain itself and the Maltese Government deployed a member of the armed forces to confiscate food from Gozitan families in order to relieve the drastic food shortage in Malta.

As besieged Malta edged towards starvation and was on the brink of surrender the Operation Pedestal convoy – a total of 59 warships and 14 merchant ships made up the convoy, including the Texaco oil tanker, Ohio – set out with 85,000 tons of supplies, 53,000 tons of which ended up at the bottom of the Mediterranean, but the remaining 32,000 tons of supplies changed the fate of Malta. The cargo included amongst other items: aviation fuel, petrol and kerosene, medical supplies, corned beef, mutton, tinned fish, dehydrated vegetables, tins of Cheddar cheese, tins of butter, dehydrated potatoes, powdered milk, hard tack biscuits, wheat flour, maize, cotton bales, whisky, cigarettes and tobacco, guns, shells, aircraft consignments and cars.

Victory Kitchen Songs

Saqajhom irqaq ghax jieklu il qaq tal-Victory Kitchen!

B’idejja thokk sorma u bl’ohra fil borma…
tal-Victory Kitchen

The Victory Kitchen song (translated into English)…tune not known!

Baked pasta in trays and people in array
At the Victory Kitchens
Minestra and sardines, pasta and beans
At the Victory Kitchens
What a treat on New Years Day! They made us eat sardines
At the Victory Kitchens
Their legs are so fat, they eat so much grub
The girls at the Victory Kitchens
Their hair set all wavy to flirt with the boys in the Navy
The girls at the Victory Kitchens
The kitchen staff were not slow to retaliate
By saying we served you goats meat that you had to eat
From the Victory Kitchens

If you are in Valletta, look out for the only remaining Victory Kitchen sign in Malta that was discovered around ten years ago during renovation works to the façade of shop, that was previously a retail clothing outlet known as Krishna. The sign has been fully restored to its original red, white and dark blue colours.