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World War II Database

Gibraltar

Full Name 84 Crown Colony of Gibraltar
Alliance Allies - Minor Member Nation or Possession
Possessing Power United Kingdom
Entry into WW2 3 Sep 1939
Population in 1939 21,000

Contributor:

ww2dbaseBritish and Dutch troops occupied Gibraltar at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula in in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession, and per the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713, it became British territory indefinitely. The promontory Rock of Gibraltar overlooked the relatively narrow entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, thus it soon became a major British Royal Navy base. It would play important roles for several war prior to and including WW2, especially after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, which made Mediterranean Sea an important link from Britain to her colonies in the Middle East and beyond.

ww2dbaseIn late 1939, construction of a modern airfield began; this airfield was extended with land reclaimed from the sea starting in 1941. Threat from the German-leaning Spain had always loomed over Gibraltar, fearing that Francisco Franco would allow German troops to march through Spain to take Gibraltar; in preparation, plans were made to make use of the elaborate underground facilities even after German occupation to report enemy movement back to Britain by radio communications. Ultimately, Spain would remain non-belligerent through the war, and Axis troops never marched in from the north. Actual attacks on Gibraltar did take place, however, coming in the form of French air raids (between Jul and Sep 1940 in retaliation of British attacks on the French fleet; causing relatively little damage), Italian air raids (between 1942 and 1944, though most took place in 1942), and Italian commando raids (frogmen swimming into the harbor to attack ships in the harbor). As a military base, Gibraltar played a critical role in coordinating convoy escort efforts particularly in the western half of the Mediterranean Sea; in fact, a great many convoys coming from the west destined for the island base of Malta originated from Gibraltar. It also hosted US General and Allied Supreme Commander Dwight Eisenhower's headquarters during Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa, whose staff made use of the miles of underground tunnels and extensive facilities within the Rock. For the final phase of the war, when combat shifted to northern Italy and in northwestern Europe, Gibraltar became a logistics center and used her drydock facilities to repair ships.

ww2dbaseThe majority of the civilian population of Gibraltar were evacuated to Britain, French Morocco (prior to the French surrender), Portuguese Madeira, and British Jamaica during the war. On 6 Apr 1944, the first group of 1,367 evacuees returned to Gibraltar from Britain. On 28 May, another group arrived from Madeira. The final group of Gibraltarians returned from Northern Ireland in 1951.

ww2dbaseAfter the war, Gibraltar remained an important British possession. In 1981, its status changed from that of a Crown Colony to a British Overseas Territory.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia

Last Major Update: Jun 2013

Events Taken Place in Gibraltar
Malta Campaign11 Jun 1940 - 31 Dec 1942
British Attacks on the French Fleet3 Jul 1940 - 25 Sep 1940


Photographs

HMS Kelly at Gibraltar, circa late 1940 or early 1941HMS Formidable and two destroyers off the Rock of Gibraltar, 1940s; photo taken from HMS Rodney
See all 4 photographs of Gibraltar in World War II


Gibraltar in World War II Interactive Map




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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. shirley smith says:
23 Jun 2015 01:24:09 PM

How can I find out more about the following: Leading Seaman Thomas Robert Hazeldine, HMS Presient 111 Royal Naval Reserve died on Sunday 19th October 1941, remembered with honour in Gibraltar (north front) cemetery? What was the action which resulted in his death? I believe HMS President 111 was not a ship but an accounting base.
2. Anonymous says:
11 Nov 2015 11:41:29 AM

My uncle, John Goodrich Heatherington, served in Bomber Command at Gibraltar. He was killed on 26 December 1941 when his plane crashed into the sea shortly after take-off. I would be like to know more about this incident. All of the crew with the exception of my uncle were able to escape from the plane before it sank.
3. Pam MORRIS says:
4 Mar 2016 12:35:08 PM

I have a lovely photo of the dental branch on Gibraltar during 1940-43. My father, Ron Morris, was a dental mechanic. He wrote the names of all the people on the back of the photo and it might be interesting to somebody. I don't know where to send the photo though. He made a paperweight of Gibraltar while he was there which was always very special to him.
4. Andrew Schembri says:
23 Aug 2017 01:25:12 PM

shirley smith - Leading Seaman Thomas Robert Hazeldine (PX 17911A) Age 25 died on board the ship SS Baron Kelvin which was sunk by U-206 off Tarifa, Strait of Gibraltar. Buried at Gibraltar, Plot 2. Row A. Joint grave 6.
5. Anonymous says:
21 Oct 2017 04:06:58 PM

do you have any photo's of the HMS Antelope H36 in gibralter my father was on the shep
6. Zac Morris says:
5 Feb 2018 04:43:18 PM

I have photos from Gibraltar and Sierra Leone my grandfather Ken Morris served but don’t know what ship or anything, I have a photograph of his dog tag if anyone can help me
7. Gillian James says:
8 Jul 2018 10:26:50 AM

Looking for info about James Ware, working for MI6, smuggling people from North Africa to Gibraltar in a car with a false bottom, then rowing them out to navy vessels, accompanied by large dod, who then towed him back to shore, silently, Any info gratefully received
8. Angela Mena says:
20 Mar 2019 11:29:46 PM

my father Francis Mena age 13 yrs and 5 family members were on the Brittany ship h on 30/7/1940 contingent 4uk which port did they land at ? when did they return to Gibralter?
thanks

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Gibraltar in World War II Photo Gallery
HMS Kelly at Gibraltar, circa late 1940 or early 1941HMS Formidable and two destroyers off the Rock of Gibraltar, 1940s; photo taken from HMS Rodney
See all 4 photographs of Gibraltar in World War II


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