Sunday, November 21, 2004


Update 9th February 2009

I have decided to re-direct the use of this Blog, converting it into a personal blog. You can read about this here.

I have kept the original 5 chapters I wrote for the novel and these are archived. If you wish, you can read them by clicking on the label 'Novel' and also on the right margin under 'Labels'.

As for further chapters of this novel... one never knows... I might get around to finding the inspiration (and urge) to write some more. But not for the moment.

Thanks for your interest though! :)

It is April 1941. Since September of last year, Britain has been enduring the Blitz conducted by Goering’s Luftwaffe. Already, 43,000 have been killed across Britain and 1.4 million have been made homeless. Not only has London been attacked but so have many other British cities. Coventry and Plymouth have been particularly badly bombed but most of Britain’s cities have also been attacked – Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool etc.

Since France’s fall in the Spring last year, German U-Boats have had access to the French ports and have been causing mounting losses to convoys in the North Atlantic bringing further pressure to bear on the British Government and their focus is far from Gibraltar and are assuming Spain‘s continued position of neutrality, despite the fact that last year Spain's Dictator, General Franco, made a pact with his Fascist friends, the Axis Powers to support them although, so far, he has kept his promise to Britain, not to actively enter the conflict.

Gibraltar is quiet for a change. The inhabitants have been spared any further visits by the Vichy French bombers who flew over from the French Protectorate across the Straits in Morocco last year and carried out a daring raid. Luckily not too many injuries and not much damage was caused. The past few months have continued at a frantic pace nevertheless with preparations for all expectancies and dangers trying to be anticipated and provided for.

Searchlights pick out Vicy French bombers attacking Gibraltar

Nearly the entire civilian population, some 16,000 people, with the exception of males of military service age have been evacuated. The vast majority have been sent to England and Northern Ireland. Others to Madeira, North Africa and Jamaica. Remarkably, some have even gone to London and are now even worse off having to endure the Blitz! The sense of this has been strongly questioned here and is causing much worry amongst their family members who have stayed in Gibraltar and are serving in the Gibraltar Defence Force, Royal Naval Reserve, HM Dockyard manning many other essential services around the ‘Rock’ and of course, not least, ‘minding the shop‘, looking after important businesses!

Since September ’39, shortly after the declaration of War, the Garrison has been comprised by two British battalions: 2nd The Kings Regiment and 2nd Somerset Light Infantry. 4th Devonshire arrived in May 1940 and 4th Black Watch in July 1940, so by January this year, four infantry battalions have been in place. These have been augmented by our own 1st and 2nd Gibraltar Brigades of the GDF (Gibraltar Defence Force), providing some additional battalions. Up and around the Rock, the 3rd Heavy Regiment, Royal Artillery control 4th, 26th, and 27th Batteries with 8 x 9.2-inch guns, 7 x 6-inch guns, and 6 x twin 6-pounders. In September 1939 two AA batteries, the 9th and 19th, arrived and had the pleasure of defending Gibraltar from the Vichy French air attacks with their 4 x 3-inch, 4 x 3.7-inch and 2 x 40mm guns. HQ 10th AA Regiment has been formed to control the two batteries. The 82nd Heavy AA Regiment arrived in July 1940 with three batteries including 16 3.7-inch guns, 8 x 40mm Bofors guns and the first radar sets. 3rd Searchlight Battery also arrived in July. Some shuffling of assets and re-numbering of units followed (including departure of HQ 10th AA Regiment, but no batteries); however, this AA strength has now been further reinforced last Month, March 1941. Absolutely essential since, as there are no fighters currently based in Gibraltar and no facilities for supporting them, AA fire is the only defence against any further bombing by the Vichy French or even possibly the Italians.

The Naval Base is also once again back to relative normality. Force H assembled here last month from units of the Home Fleet. Vice-Adm Sir James Somerville flying his flag in the battlecruiser “Hood” and also commanding the battleships “Resolution” and “Valiant”, the aircraft carrier “Ark Royal” and a few cruisers and destroyers have now sailed, apparently on the hunt for the German pocket Battleship the “Bismark”. Force H was a splendid and impressive sight as they left the harbour and cheered on their way by all, despite the crews having caused the usual chaos in the Bars and streets of the town. They shall be warmly welcomed on their return, despite these disruptions to our otherwise relatively calm existence. The population is well used to it after 240 years of it! Left behind in harbour are only a handful of destroyers and our own small fleet of RNR Motor Torpedo Boats (MTB’s).

As already explained, the civilian population that has remained in Gibraltar is almost solely male. Many are serving in the Gibraltar Defence Force or Royal Naval Reserve augmenting the Military Garrison and Naval bases. There is a distinct lack of local female company. Many Spanish women enter Gibraltar every day from across the border in La Linea. Most of them cleaners or shop assistants or working as cooks or waitresses in the hotels, restaurants and bars. Some stay behind at weekends to enjoy the thriving night life, Gibraltar still somehow manages to offer, some perhaps earning a little extra ’pin money’. There are also some British females here but alas not many. A very few with the Army Transport Corps, some QARN nurses and even a few wives and girlfriends of serving officers belonging to Force H, who came out to visit ‘hubbies’ and fiances, choosing to stay and enjoy the relative peace Gibraltar offers, not least the impending great Summer weather, in the hope of the proposed early return of Force H to the Rock. In the meantime, Spring is here and that in itself beats an English Summer every time anyhow. Seems a reasonable choice to make if your hometown back in Britain is presently being bombed nightly by the Luftwaffe!

Unknown to anyone on the Rock of Gibraltar or indeed back in Britain or anywhere else under British control for that matter, things are not quite as they seem across the border in Spain! Amazingly, the feasibility of an assault on Gibraltar has long been in the planning by the Third Reich! Following a number of detailed reconnaissance missions and visits to the Town by specialist Wehrmacht officers wearing civilian clothing and in depth studying of the Rock from Spanish soil, Algeciras and San Roque’s hilltop ’Seat of Isabel’ as well as seaward perspectives, the Wehrmacht in the summer and autumn of 1940 drew up detailed plans for what they term Operation Felix, the assault on Gibraltar! Only the implementation of Operation Barbarossa, which has drawn most available German Wehrmacht and much Luftwaffe manpower to the Russian Front added to some difficulties at the highest diplomatic levels have so far prevented the proposed Operation Felix from occurring at the beginning of 1941.

However, for the Generalissimo Francisco Franco, the ultimate prize of grasping British Gibraltar back into the Spanish bosom ,"Todo para La Patria" (all for the homeland!), is too great a temptation. Having thought long and hard about all the ramifications, including the consequences of breaking his promise to Britain, having studied the plans very carefully and taking account of his own highly trained and experienced battle hardened troops, rested over the last four years or so after the successful conclusion of the Civil War, Generalissimo Franco, is confident of getting away with this audacious and treacherous assault. He has proposed to Hitler that Spain itself is willing to conduct Operation Felix! He has offered his troops and Navy to conduct the main elements required by the assault. All he needs is the Luftwaffe to provide the main aerial attack, as they did during the Spanish Civil War. Hitler, relishing the prospect of control of the Western entrance to the Meditterranean for this considerably reduced effort and the bonus of winnng the active entry of Spain on the side of the Axis confident in the knowledge that Franco can be handled, has immediately consented. Operation Felix is once again on and about to explode on the quiet and relatively unprotected Rock of Gibraltar.