The Maltese community in Melbourne mourns the passing of another of its prominent members. Francis Xaviour Bugeja was born in Valletta, Malta, on 8 July 1925 and passed away on 29 February 2012, aged 87 years.
Frank joined the Boy Scout Valletta Troop, as a ‘wolf cub’, before transferring to the Scout Headquarters in Floriana, where he obtained his ‘King’s Scout Badge’.
On Sunday, 3 September 1939 the second World War was declared. Soon after, an appeal was made for all boy scouts/rovers to volunteer for the ‘National Service’. Frank was one of the volunteers. His duty was to assist the wartime censors at the General Post Office, Merchant Street, Valletta, mostly with the re-sealing of letters and other duties as required. Later we were paid one shilling a week.
On Monday, 10 June 1940 at 7.00 pm Italy declared that it had joined Hitler’s war. On Tuesday, 11 May 1943 Frank volunteered and joined (under age) the Royal Air Force service. After completing his basic duties, he was posted with the ‘balloon barrage’ section in Floriana in defence of the Grand Harbour as well as other duties. He was later transferred to Air-Sea base in Kalafrana, posted on the high Speed Rescue Launch No.128, under the command of Flt. Lt., George R Crocket, carrying out Air-Sea rescue operations of ditched air crews, irrespective of nationality. Frank was discharged in 1945 ‘Service no longer required’.
Frank was awarded the ‘Africa Star, 1939-1945 Star, 1939-Medal and the Defence Medal’. In 1992 the Government of Malta ‘in recognition of service rendered in the defence of the Island Fortress of Malta the National Commemorative Medal’, marking the 50th Anniversary. Frank had come through the ordeal of war.
In December 1947, Frank he migrated to Australia, single, aged 22 years, and joined the RSL Melbourne Branch. In April 1950 Eleonora (Nora) Fenech arrived in Melbourne, and on Saturday 3 June that same year he married Nora at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Church in North Melbourne.
In 1978 he transferred to the Maltese ex-Services Association, Malta G.C. which also serves as an RSL Sub-Branch in which he served as President, Vice-President and PRO. He was also affiliate member of the Keilor East RSL Sub-Branch. In 1999 he received the 50 years continuous service Certificate as a member of the RSL – a total of 64 years’ service.
As a leader of the Maltese Ex-Services Association, Frank used to participate in organised functions and help the bingo group of the MCCV before and after the new Centre was built in Parkville.
Frank and Nora have a son, David, who is married to Pat, and four grandchildren, Kathleen, Elizabeth, Peter and Eleonor. Frank was very proud of his family. Last year Frank and Nora celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.
After over 61 years of a happy and respectful life, Frank passed peacefully away at his home on Wednesday 29 February 2012. May he rest in peace.