Friday, August 01, 2008

How the Gibraltarians became a people as a consequence of WW2

A modern view of Gibraltar and one of its tailless monkeys looking towards Spain. During WW2 and for some years afterwards most Gibraltarians were evacuated from their homes

In 1940, most civilians not employed for the military requirements of Gibraltar were evacuated from the Rock. Some of them did not return to their homeland until some years after the war. However, the evacuation did have major consequences for those who regarded the Rock as their home. Upon their return they were no longer just people living in Gibraltar. They were now a united people with a common identity – Gibraltarians.

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Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

After the fall of France and the entry of Italy into the Second World War in June 1940 the future of Gibraltar looked rather precarious. Winston Churchill and the British military authorities in Whitehall, London believed there was a strong possibility of the Axis Forces mounting an attack across the narrow stretch of land connecting Gibraltar to the Spanish mainland. The loss of the Rock of Gibraltar, the ‘Guardian of the Mediterranean’, would have been a further significant blow to the Allied cause at that time. One concern was the Spanish dictator General Franco would move from a position of neutrality to join the Axis Forces, partly in gratitude for German support during the Spanish Civil War.

Gibraltar would then have been completely surrounded by a hostile enemy. Across the Straights of Gibraltar, Morocco was under the control of the French Government at Vichy. The North African Spanish colony of Cueta also had artillery guns trained on the Rock. Because of this threat thousands of Gibraltarians who did not work on military-related aspects were evacuated to different parts of the world – including London, Northern Ireland, Jamaica and Madeira.

As it turned out, those Gibraltarians evacuated to London would have been safer back home, as no major assault was ever mounted on the Rock. While the Gibraltarians had been enforced to endure much separation and heartache during WW2, it did lead to them obtaining a national identity.

Friday, 01 August, 2008  

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