St. Clement’s Retrenchment

St. Clement’s Retrenchment forms part of the Cottonera Lines and was built by the British in 1853. When the British came to Malta they found many unfinished defensive work. Furthermore, there was a large empty space between the Santa Margherita and the Cottonera lines which made it easy for the enemy to attack the Santa Margherita Lines. As a result, the British had resolved to reform the Cottonera Lines into a line of separate citadels or retrenchments centred on the bastions and making a way with curtain walls. The first and only citadel to be completed in this scheme was Fort Verdala which forms part of the Santa Margherita Lines and the only retrenchment was that of St. Clement’s  which links the fort with St. Clement’s Bastion in the Cottonera Lines. It had two levels of gun ports and emplacements and could bring together a total of 384 cannon and muskets cutting in half the large expanse of land caught between the Cottonera  and the Santa Margherita Lines. The fort and entrenchment also served as soldier barrack accommodation and in the First World War they were converted into a Prisoner of War Camp in which Austro-Hungarian, German and Turkish military and civilian prisoners were interned.

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