Francisco Balbi di Correggio

Balbi di Correggio's Diary - 23rd of June - Ottomans attack with great fierce in St Elmo

Saturday, 23 June

At sunrise on Saturday 23 June, being the eve of the feast of St John the Baptist, the name-saint and protector of the Order, the Turks began their last assault on St Elmo… Though few and without munitions, this handful of heroes made a brave defence… The Janizaries were the first to enter the fort by the high tower.

Our men were very few, and all wounded and hemmed in on all sides, could no longer resist, so they retired to the church in the hope of making a conditional surrender but, when they saw the Turks  cut off without pity the heads of those who surrendered, they rushed to the square and these sold their lives at a high price.

A very few Maltese saved themselves by swimming to the Birgu.

God only knows how much the loss of St Elmo weighed on the Grand Master and on everybody, although it was well lost by us and at great cost to the enemy.

Our losses at St Elmo amounted to one thousand five hundred men of all nationalities. Eighty-nine knights were killed and twenty-eight were wounded and taken to the Birgu.



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