Pippa and I have acquired some new blogpals, partly through our move to wordpress.
Some of you have expressed an interest in Gibraltar and, as I assume (possibly wrongly) that you don’t want to wade through the previous 300+ posts, I thought I would provide a series of summary posts on Gib. (Apols to those who may have read some of this before, but to be honest even I forget what I have written).
The trouble with Gib is, that for such a small place, with 30,000 people, there is always too much happening, so it can be quite difficult to keep up with important current affairs while talking about the past, or vice versa.
But, as Burke and Santayana said (linky here on Clouds for those of you who like that sort of thing) – those who don’t know history …..
The truth is, you can never understand anywhere without understanding its history. And the history of the immediate neighbours as well, because that is key to understanding the strange mix that makes up present-day Gibraltar, ie Spain and Morocco in particular, but other Mediterranean countries too.
OK, after that pretentious intro, here’s the personal one. My father served in the RN during WW2 and spent some time in Gib. If he wasn’t in Gib he was in Malta. He loved the Mediterranean and Gib and always wanted to come back but never made it. We thought it was a good feng shui move to come here and, maybe that way, somehow his wish will have been fulfilled.
For that reason, you will see that the RN features strongly in my Gib history posts. Not just for that though, without naval history, Gib wouldn’t have British heritage.
There really is more to Gibraltar than monkeys, a ride in a cable car, and duty-free tobacco, spirits and perfume.
With each pic, I’ve included the original month of the post, so the archives have more info should you have time and inclination on your hands. I know, I should have done click ‘here’ – but I’m still trying to sort the imported blogs. (I’ll do it later). ETA, links now included.
The naval history tour has to start with Admiral Nelson. This statue is just outside the city walls at Southport/Referendum Gates, and opposite the Trafalgar Cemetery. (Original pic on link here July 2007)
The Royal Navy at the Trafalgar Day Cemetery, October 2007 (Original pic on post here October 2007). This one was taken by my partner as I was in Spain at the time.
This is one of two memorial stones that always receives a wreath every year, a naval officer, Lieut William Forster, who died of wounds received at the Battle of Trafalgar. (Original post in November 2007 here)
Moving rather more up-to-date although, still very much in the past now, sadly, is the Ark Royal. A former flagship of the RN, she was still working in November 2008 when this photo was taken (link here in November 2008), but her decommissioning was brought forward from 2016 to 2011. She probably deserves a post in her own right :(
Here is the famous 100 ton gun. About which you can read more in January 2009 here. It’s an extremely cheap place to visit at Napier Battery, Rosia. I think it is a quid for non-Gib residents, and it is jam-packed with history. It’s not sophisticated, but it doesn’t need to be. It is, however, impressive. It is a late 19th century gun built by Vickers Armstrong in Newcastle for the Italian and Royal Navies, and is one of the only two that remain – the other one is in Malta.
This incidentally is my non-entry for the WordPress photo word of the week ‘ready.’ This gun was ready to shoot right round from the Bay of Algeciras out to sea in the Straits to defend Gibraltar.
Royal Naval History would hardly be complete without mentioning the (in)famous Royal Marines. I daresay they are used to worse conditions than a little Gibraltar rain – they marched extremely rapidly too :D (Original photo here in March 2009)
Let’s end up where we started with Admiral Nelson, this time, on Trafalgar Day 2009, link here. The RN hands out cute little souvenir booklets which probably say the same thing every year, but still, they are nice. The trouble is, they always sing Eternal Father at this wretched service, so I stand there for five minutes, take photos and then get misty eyes. I wonder if current serving RN staff are as emotive about this hymn these days as my father was? Circumstances are different so hopefully they are not.
Anyway, that will have to do for a general view of some Gib naval history without writing a thesis.