Sunday, March 29, 2015

The defences around Rosia Bay, Gibraltar

1. Nelson's Anchorage, Rosia Road, Gibraltar
[Inaugurated above Rosia Bay, 21 October 1994]
2. Parson's Lodge Battery on the headland above the bay
[Defending Rosia Bay, the nearby beach and the Rock]
3. A WW2 Anti-Aircraft gun, Napier of Magdala Battery
[Seen behind is the 100-Ton "Rock Buster" Super Gun]
4. A 1942 Mk 1 m Bren Gun and ammunition case
(Restored by Cpl. Bellfield, REME and Cpl. Heard, R.G)
[Part of the 100-Ton Super Gun Museum display, Gibraltar]
For additional information click on 'Comments' below.


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

Nelson’s Anchorage at Rosia Bay, Gibraltar

Rosia Bay is situated on the S.W. side of the Rock of Gibraltar and is the only natural harbour of the fortress. The name ‘Rosia’ comes from the monastery town with this name in northern Italy. Gibraltar is at the western end of the Mediterranean Sea leading into the Atlantic Ocean beyond.

Rosia’s deep water natural harbour has been strategically important for centuries although its military and naval significance has diminished in the 21st Century. Nevertheless, it is still possible to trace the history of Rosia’s defensive arrangements dating back over two centuries, some of which have been restored.

Around the time of the Napoleonic wars Gibraltar, and specifically Rosia harbour, was important for the British fleet in southern Europe. It was a place where the Royal Navy’s sailing ships could obtain provisions, including food and water without having to return to home ports in the south of England. Early in the 19th Century one of the major projects in the Rosia Bay area was the development of a Royal Navy Victualling Yard. The buildings were used for this purpose until 2006. At the time of writing the victualing yard buildings were awaiting redevelopment, possibly as an industrial site.

Although no longer used as a victualling yard by the Royal Navy many of the fortified buildings date from the early 19th Century. However, the nearby Rosia Water Tanks were demolished early in the 21st Century by the Government of Gibraltar to make way for affordable housing (“Nelson’s View”).

It was at Rosia Bay that the Mediterranean Fleet under Admiral Lord Nelson obtained supplies during the Napoleonic wars such as in 1805 just before the Battle of Trafalgar (21 October 1805). This was Nelson’s most famous and it was also his last victory as he was killed during the battle. With Nelson’s death, command of the fleet passed to Vice Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood. With a storm brewing Collingwood’s main priority in the aftermath of the successful battle was to get more than 50 damaged ships plus 4 captured ships back to Gibraltar some of which required towing.

It was to Rosia Bay that Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory, was towed arriving on 28 October 1805 with Nelson’s body on board, preserved in a cask of brandy. Commemorating Nelson’s Anchorage at Rosia is a commemorative tablet on Rosia Road just inland from Rosia Bay [Photograph No. 1]. It was unveiled on 21 October 1994 (Trafalgar Day) by the Hon. J.E. Pilcher, Minister for Tourism.

Sunday, 29 March, 2015  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The batteries defending the Rosia district

Because of its critical importance to Gibraltar and the Mediterranean Fleet, Rosia Bay was defended by several gun batteries. On the southern side of the harbour and on the seaward side of the victualing yard in Parson’s Lodge Battery, originally known as the 9th Rosia Battery. Parson’s Lodge Battery stands on top of a headland above the mole in Rosia harbour [Photograph No. 2]. On the southern side of the headland is the sandy beach of Camp Bay. During WW2 the guns at Parson’s Lodge were an integral part of Gibraltar’s defences against a landing from the sea at Camp Bay. Coastal artillery searchlights (90 cm) were located here until 1956. In 1941 additional 6-pounder guns were installed to protect against potential landings at Rosia Bay, Camp Bay and Sandy Bay further round Gibraltar’s shoreline.

On the northern headland above Rosia Bay is the Napier of Magdala Battery named after Lord Robert Napier of Magdala, a former Governor of Gibraltar during the reign of Queen Victoria (1876 – 1883). This battery is on the site of the former 2nd and 3rd Rosia Batteries which were demolished so that an Armstrong 100-Ton Gun battery could be installed (between 23 December 1878 and 31 March 1884). Although it was a powerful weapon likely to be effective against sailing ships of the early to mid-Victorian era the 100-Ton Gun at the Napier of Magdala Battery soon became obsolete with the advent of steam powered ships and aircraft. Nevertheless, the 100-Ton Gun was left at the site as it was too costly to remove and scrap. It has since been restored as a museum piece and the Battery site is open to the public.

During the 20th Century, and especially during the two World Wars, the Napier of Magdala Battery retained its strategic importance. Four 3.7” Anti-Aircraft guns were mounted at the site in WW2 as part of Gibraltar’s defence against attack by enemy aircraft. One of the WW2 Anti-Aircraft guns, also restored as a museum piece at the site, can be seen in front of the 100-Ton Gun [Photograph No. 3]. Gibraltar did come under aerial attack during the Second World War by both the Vichy French Air Force (1940) and Italian Air Force (mainly in 1942 / 1943).

Also during WW2 one of the underground ramrod passages of the 100-Ton Gun at the Napier of Magdala Battery was extended to provide firing positions overlooking Rosia Bay. Bren guns were installed in this position. A 1942 Mk 1 m model was restored as a museum display item at this site by Corporal Bellfield, R.E.M.E. and Corporal Heard, R.G. [Photograph No. 4].

Sunday, 29 March, 2015  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Development of the area

Part of the Rosia Bay area remains under the control of Britain’s M.O.D. As previously mentioned, some of the land and buildings in the Rosia area have been handed over to the Government of Gibraltar for residential, recreational and industrial use.

Parson’s Lodge Battery at the southern end of Rosia Bay is operated by the Gibraltar Museum but at the time this article was written the site was not open to the public. However, the Napier of Magdala Battery with Gibraltar’s 100-Ton Gun is listed with the Gibraltar Heritage Trust and is open to the public. The defensive wall and batteries at the eastern side of the bay on Rosia Road are also listed with the G.H.T.

A number of the restored guns in the area, including the 100-Ton Gun at the Napier of Magdala Battery, have been restored as museum pieces.
For further information (including a virtual tour) about the 100-Ton Gun and the Rosia Bay area click on the following link to go to the ‘Visit Gibraltar’ website:
The 100 Ton Gun virtual tour (Visit Gibraltar website)

Sunday, 29 March, 2015  

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