The Story Behind The Card Series 2 – The Sovereign Military Order of Malta

I touched upon this Order of Chivalry in an earlier ‘Behind the card’ but would like to amplify its story. This QSL card illustrates the Order’s present Headquarters in Rome and depicts the HQ building in the extra-territorial zone of “Villa Magistrale all’ Aventino” and the group of amateurs who have operated 14KM. This call sign of the Order often crops up on the amateur bands and a contact with it constitutes working an entity in its own right.
The full title of this ancient organisation is The Sovereign Military Hospitaller
Order of St. John of Jerusalem and Rhodes and Malta, and it was founded before the conquest of Jerusalem by the Crusaders in 1099. It was recognised by Pope Pascal II and from 1310 to 1522 had sovereignty of the island of Rhodes. Then from 1530 to 1798 it controlled the island of Malta after receiving that island as a gift from the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. In 1834 it came to Rome where it actually controls several extraterritorial areas. The annual rental of the island of Malta was the annual presentation to Emperor Charles of two falcons. The reason for the move to Rome was their expulsion from Malta by Napoleon. The Order is now generally known as the Order of Malta and St. John and it actually has Diplomatic relations with 104 countries. Its activities centre upon providing medical and social care and humanitarian aid in more than 120 countries. Should you have some spare time when visiting London pay a visit to the Most Venerable Order of St. John which is located in a dark Venerable Order of St. John which is located in a dark grey stone building with a gatehouse which is a part of the Priory of Clerkenwell which was established in 15O4.This Order is best recognised as the St. John’s Ambulance Service and is a spinoff from the Military Order of Malta. The building is in St. John’s Lane  Clerkenwell (close to the Smithfield Meat Market) and it houses a free Museum which tells the story of the Knights of St.John and the Ambulance Service. There are a number of important 15th and 16th century paintings to be seen too. I last visited this Museum some 25 years ago and I can recommend a visit as something a little different from most other museums.

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If you work on the VHF bands having QSOs with stations in a Continent outside Europe it can be very desirable. Fortunately Africa proves not to be difficult on 50 MHz when there is a big SpE opening, but these contacts are generally made with temporary or expedition stations. The Spanish possessions of Ceuta and Melilla (EA9) are close to Gibraltar, and Italy governs a few islands that lie close to Tunisia. The largest of these is Pantelleria which is about 45 miles from the Tunisian coast. This island is often activated by visiting Italians during the May to July SpE lifts.

Pantelleria is a sub-tropical volcanic island with a fruit growing export industry, but so far as I can tell enjoys little general tourism. Italian call sign prefixes indicate different geographical locations and the island uses IH9. The other Italian islands are also included as part of Africa and are the Pelagics, Lampedusa being the largest. The call sign prefix there is IG9.

On the way home from India in June 1946 aboard the ‘Georgic’ we were alerted by a ‘Tannoy’ announcement during our passage through the Med. that informed us that “The island on the Port side is Pantelleria”. Me and my mates had never even heard of the place!

I have had several IH9 QSOs on Six Metres and the illustrated card confirms my contact on June 23rd 2004 at mid-day UTC and was sent by I2ADN after his return home in Italy. When conditions are right on ‘six’ you should be able to work Africa when using a simple antenna (dipole or small beam) using as little as 10 watts power. These days I use my Long Wire which can be matched to the transceiver by an MFJ-974H multi-band ATU.

By John Heys G3BDQ – Vital Spark January 2013.

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