Return of Service Families
Dom Mintoff had set a deadline for the military to leave Malta by 15 Jan 1972. On 9 Jan, 21 pregnant service wives were evacuated in a specially adapted Britannia of 511 Squadron RAF. Medical staff accompanied the expectant women but no problems occurred during the four hour flight from Malta to RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire.
The women were the vanguard of 1500 service wives who were returned to England in three VC 10s on 10 Jan 1972.1 All service families left Malta by 14 Jan 1972, leaving the men to demilitarize the bases.
The signing of the new Anglo-Maltese defence agreement led to the return of service families. By Dec 1972, there were in Malta 2,880 service men and civil servants and 4,500 dependents.
The Malta Command consisted of one Royal Marine Commando unit, a squadron of RAF Camberras, a squadron of Nimrods reconnaissance aircraft, and a small naval staff.
In Jan 1972, negotiations were initiated in Rome on the terms of a new defence agreement. Talks continued in London, when the deadline for the departure of British troops slipped from 15 Jan to 31 Mar 1972.
A seven year defence agreement was eventually concluded on 26 Mar, five days short of the deadline set by Mintoff for the withdrawal of British troops. Under the Marlborough House agreement, Malta received £5,250,000 a year from Britain for use of the bases until Mar 1979, and £8,750,000 a year from NATO countries.
On 9 July 1972, HMS Bulwark returned 41 Cdo Gp to Malta, but without 79 Cdo Bty RA which flew into Malta in August.
41 Cdo Gp occupied St Andrew's Barracks; 79 Cdo Bty was at St George's Barracks. 79 Cdo Bty RA left Malta on 26 June 1974 and was replaced by 8 Cdo Bty RA which arrived on 15 Aug 1974. 41 Cdo and 8 Cdo Bty RA left for Cyprus in Nov 1974, but returned to Malta on 6 Apr 1975.