The Box Project

Among Malta’s Second World War heritage stand pillboxes: defensive positions built from concrete and (in some cases) local stone. Although many authors have made series attempts at researching and publishing first-rate work on these sites, they remain obscure structures with little to no historical value. 


Although pillboxes were in fact the British military’s 20th century understanding of local defence, their importance has never been as apparent to the public as that or the ornate Victorian forts of the British period. More so, since they were largely constructed out of concrete, as opposed to skillful limestone masonry. They are also ubiquitous and oftentimes hidden, located in the middle of fields or lost to dense foliage. 

Why should we care for pillboxes? They are Malta’s Second World War architectural heritage. Much like Fort Campbell and other defensive positions used, built or altered during the conflict they reflect a specific strategic, technological, and cultural period which is of high importance to our history. Pillboxes in particular are the legacy of Malta’s preparation for a full scale invasion of the island. One can even observe variations in make and design according to developing enemy strategy. More importantly, local pillboxes, although derived from British plans, are architecturally unique and contain distinct local innovations that cannot be found anywhere else.


Battlefront Malta has been working tirelessly since December of 2020 to document and research the remnants of this intricate layer of Malta’s defence. This was all done on a voluntary basis, as were several trips to archives abroad to support the project with primary material. On the 14th of March 2024, the organisation signed a deal with the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage to transfer all data related to pillboxes. This is a new era for pillboxes: over two hundred unique sites previously invisible are now part of the national inventory. 

This is only the end of another chapter for Battlefront Malta. The present task is to make the necessary government bodies and the public aware of this national inventory. However, we believe this can be done through education and public awareness on the significance of this concrete heritage. An even bigger challenge is to keep researching and documenting new sites or structures of interest which, given their state of deterioration or damage, often renders the task akin to an archeological project of some ancient ruin.