Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Gibraltar Evacuees of WW2

1. The Gibraltar Evacuees Memorial Sculpture
[Waterport Road (adjoining North Mole), Gibraltar]
2. Gibraltar Evacuees Memorial Plaque
[Located in lobby of Gibraltar's Parliament]
For additional information click on ‘Comments’ below


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

In the summer of 1940, following the fall of France, Belgium and the Netherlands, the British colony and fortress of Gibraltar effectively remained the only free place in mainland Europe opposed to Adolph Hitler and the Nazis. To the British authorities it seemed there was a strong likelihood of a long siege, and a possible assault from Spanish, German or Italian forces.

One of the measures taken to strengthen the position of the British forces at Gibraltar was the evacuation of the civilian population not directly engaged in the supporting the military. Basically, this was mainly the old, the women and the children. These were the families of the Gibraltarians who worked in ship repair yards and elsewhere on the ‘Rock’.

Some of the Gibraltarian families were initially evacuated to Morocco, but then had to be move from there because it was then under the control of the pro-German Vichy Government. Some of the evacuees were able to find refuge in Spain or other neighbouring countries if they had family members already living there. However, most of the Gibraltar evacuees were sent to Britain (mainly London), Madeira and Jamaica. Those who were sent to London had the further sufferance of the London Blitz of 1940.

It was not to be a short evacuation. Some of the Gibraltarians did not get repatriated until 1951. The above memorial sculpture found in Gibraltar close to the modern ferry terminal is dedicated to the memory of this long, enforced separation of the families. Despite all the deprivations of the war years, Gibraltarians are proud of this period in their long history. It also united and strengthened the community upon which they could build to the place that Gibraltar is today.

Tuesday, 18 January, 2011  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...


Thanks for reading the article, and also your comments. I presume your mother-in-law is still resident in the UK?

If so, I would suggest the best place to make enquiries and explain about your mother-in-law's wishes would be to contact the Gibraltar Office in London:

The Director,
"Gibraltar House",
150 Strand,
Tel No: (+44) 207 836 0777

E-mail address:

Good luck with your enquiry. Being a refugee in another land, even one that is welcoming and friendly, can never be easy.

Wednesday, 30 March, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was evacuated aged 9 months from the Rock sometime in early 1940 along with my mother and two older brothers we returned to liverpool while my dad stayed on the rock until he was recalled for the normandy landings, he served in the 2nd batalion kings reg fo 34 years, I would love to know which ship we returned on as i have written our family history and it would be great to fill in the gaps brian P Carlyon

Saturday, 14 May, 2011  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...


Do you have the date of your return to Gibraltar after WW2 by any chance? The Garrison Library holds back copies of the 'Gibraltar Chronicle'. Outside of the World Wars the 'Gibraltar Chronicle' often lists the vessels arriving and departing at Gibraltar. Thus, if you know the approximate date of your arrival back home, you may well be able to work out which vessel carried your family back home.

During a research visit to the Garrison Library in 2009 I was introduced to a gentleman who was researching the R.N. vessels that had been at Gibraltar. He had a really comprehensive database of dates of arrival, how long the vessels had been at ‘Gib’, where they were headed next and other information. It is more difficult working out the records during the war. For obvious security reasons the movement of vessels would not be reported in the press. It was mainly for WW2 research I was visiting the library but I managed to find some information another way.

If you are living in Gibraltar, a good place to start would be to make a personal visit to the Garrison Library when it is open. I found the staff really friendly and helpful so I am sure they would do their utmost to help you. If you are based outside Gibraltar at present, if you post the approximate date you returned to Gibraltar I will enquire for you when I make another research visit to 'Gib'.

If this route fails, another idea could be to write a letter to the main 'Gibraltar Chronicle' office, asking them to publish it some time. It may be that there are other evacuated families who returned around the same time may already have the information you are seeking.

Oddly enough, while you were being evacuated to Liverpool I know that some of my own relatives who were living not too far from Liverpool voluntarily left the area for a time because of the bombing. They moved back to their original home area, which was also a 'reception area' for many British evacuees.

There was less risk of being bombed where my grandparents, great aunts and uncles, and other relatives were living so they moved in with them for some months. As in a sense they were ‘voluntary’ evacuees who had made their own arrangements they were able to return home when they felt it safe to do so. Many of the Gibraltar evacuees had to endure a prolonged family separation years after the war had ended.

It seems rather ironic now that Gibraltarian women and children were evacuated to British cities such as London and Liverpool when about the same time many of the women and children from those places were being evacuated to the countryside in the UK. Such are the strange things that happen in wartime!

Good luck with your own research, Brian!

Tuesday, 17 May, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi my names michelle im doing my art degree on the Gibrltar evacuation if you have any photos you wouldnt mind me drawing could you send them to - feel free to ask me any questions


this would be much appreciated thanks very much xx

Saturday, 25 August, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you ritsonvaljios for all the info you posted I did not make myself plain in the first post we did not return to Gib untill i viseted in 1989. As an Army family we are all born in different locations.I now knoe we left Gib on the P&O ship Strathaird and arrived in Lverpool in May 1940, we then went to Ireland to my dads family as my mum thought it would be safer Ha we were nearly all killed in the north Strand bombing of Dublin so we the moved to Bray Ireland and then back to liverpool where we remained. I became a Crane Driver and Shipbreaker at Garston south liverpool. Brian P Carlyon

Wednesday, 27 February, 2013  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The commemorative plaque for the Gibraltarian evacuees who died far from home during WW2 is located in the lobby of Gibraltar's Parliament building (seen above).

The following is a transcription of this memorial plaque:

"In 1940, as World War II was gathering momentum, the female population of Gibraltar, together with the young, the old, and the infirm, were twice evacuated from home.

This plaque is dedicated to the memory of those evacuees who died in Jamaica, London, Madeira, Morocco, N. Ireland and other places.

Rest in peace."

Tuesday, 05 November, 2013  
Blogger Jayem said...

I am writing a novel based on the life of my maternal grandparents, she was Gibraltarian and she married a young Royal Artillery soldier in Gib around 1939. She went on to be evacuated to Casablanca and then on to the Uk, ending up in Lancashire with my grandfather's family. My grandfather ended up as a POW on the Burma Railway, they were reunited 7 years later.
I would love to read some memoirs of other young Gibraltarians or soldiers posted in Gib at this time, just to get an idea of their everyday lives, activities and concerns.

If anyone can suggest any literature or sources for this or any other relevant information, I would appreciate it.

Thanks, Justine

Wednesday, 29 October, 2014  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Hello Leo and Justin,

Your real-life family story seems like a real adventure. It should make a good framework for your book. Below are a couple of suggestions:

(1) For background reading you could try reading the following memoir by the Gibraltarian, Lourdes Galliano (published by Aquila in 1997):-

"A Rocky Passage to Exile: The War Memoirs of a Gibraltarian Child Evacuee 1940-5".
[Paperback book, ISBN-13: 978-1919655024].

I have read this book and found it very interesting.

(2) In 2013 a major Gibraltar Oral History project was launched recording the memoirs of many Gibraltarians of life in the 20th Century, including evacuees and those born elsewhere during the wartime evacuation. The relevant stories may be helpful for your research.

This is a link to the 'Gibraltar Chronicle' article about the project:
Gibraltar Oral History Project (Gibraltar Chronicle article)

The Gibraltar Garrison Library has a key role in this project. You could contact the library to see if they might be able to help.

Click on the following link to see their website:
Gibraltar Garrison Library (website and contact details)

Good luck with the research for your book project, Leo and Justine.

Thursday, 30 October, 2014  
Blogger Jayem said...

Wonderful - thank you so much! Will include you in the credits...!

Thursday, 30 October, 2014  
Anonymous Claudia Faria said...

I am from Madeira Island and I am currently doing a research work on Gibraltar Evacuees life stories. I tried to open the link on Gibraltar Oral History Project but it is not available any longer. Can anyone help me. I am looking for as many stories as I can get. I work for Atlantic Studies Center. My email is claudiafaria.ceha@gmail.com

Tuesday, 13 December, 2016  

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