The Friends of Gibraltar Oral History Project (1930 to 1970)
Jerry Robinson MBE and Mary Ingoldby
An Introduction by Sir Adrian Johns, Chair of the Friends of Gibraltar Society
Though British Gibraltar’s history spans more than 3 centuries, so much has happened over the last 75 years and the older generation of Gibraltarians alive now can certainly bear witness to that. It is largely their experiences that have made Gibraltar what it is today – British but Gibraltarian through and through, with an identity formed in adversity and passionately proclaimed by all Gibraltarians now.
Two things stand out in this process. First, the wartime years, when the Rock reverted to its historical role as a military fortress and its civilian population (mainly women and children) was evacuated to destinations as far apart as Northern Ireland and the West Indies. But far from being divisive, this experience served only to promote a fierce sense of national identity and belonging.
Then came the Franco years, when Spanish attempts to bully the Rock into submission were raised to a pitch not seen since the collapse of the Great Siege – futile tactics, echoes of which still remain today. And there have been challenges in the relationship between Britain and Gibraltar, notably the closure of the dockyard, occasional tensions over the relationship with Spain, and, today, the impact of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. But in many ways, these difficulties have only served to reinforce the importance of the links that bind the two together.
All this has happened within a single lifetime. But those with first-hand memories of WW2 and of the early post-war years are no longer young, and the opportunity to capture and preserve their voices and experiences for the benefit and inspiration of future generations of Gibraltarians is too valuable to be wasted. So I am delighted that the Friends of Gibraltar have been privileged to play a part in this work, and join the production team in thanking all who have contributed to the archive.