Lady Harington and Sir Alexander Godley - The Marquis and Marquesa de Marzales
Colonel Barne and Mrs. Peatt - Captain Fellowes and Lieutenant-Colonel Hewitt
Major Wells Cole and Mr. P. G. Russo - Lieutenant-Colonel A. E. Beattie
Major Pedley and Andrew Speed - General Sir W. E. Ironside and Mr. Edwards
Colonel Barne and Mrs. Peatt - Captain Fellowes and Lieutenant-Colonel Hewitt
Major Wells Cole and Mr. P. G. Russo - Lieutenant-Colonel A. E. Beattie
Major Pedley and Andrew Speed - General Sir W. E. Ironside and Mr. Edwards
General Sir Charles Harington Harington was a British army officer who served during the First World War. He was in command of occupation forces in the Black Sea and Turkey and Commander-in-Chief of the Allied occupation army based in Constantinople. He ended his career as Governor of Gibraltar from 1933 to 1938.
General Sir Charles Harington Harington
In 1940 he published his biography - 'Tim' Harington Looks Back. The entire section dealing with his experiences in Gibraltar are quoted below. I have deliberately avoided commenting on some of the more contentious sections of his reminiscences - although I must admit that I have often had to bite my tongue.
In the summer of 1933, I was offered the Governorship of Gibraltar, which I accepted. I had been passed over for C.I.G.S., and I thought it was best to get out of the way, so I was glad to go to Gibraltar, and I have never regretted it. My wife and I arrived by the P. & O. Narkunda on 20th October, 1933, and from the first met with nothing but kindness.
The S.S. Narkunda
We came ashore by launch at Governor's Landing and were received by the heads of the Naval, Military and Colonial services, by a Guard of Honour, and by "God Save The King" for the first time. On arrival at Government House I was duly sworn in, and received resolutions of loyalty from every kind of community.
The Colonial Office was good to us, and thanks to the kindness of Major Sir Samuel Wilson, then Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, I was given a special grant, and my wife, with the aid of Peter Jones, was able to make several additions to Government House.
My first big problem in Gibraltar was the Calpe Hunt. (See LINK) My predecessor, Sir Alexander Godley, had had an unfortunate disagreement with the Marquis of Marzales, (see LINK) who had been master for forty-three years, and who had, in past days, given great sport to the officers of the Gibraltar Garrison. I know nothing of the details of this affair and always refused to go into them.
I was told by King George V, on going to Gibraltar, to put it right. It was not an easy task. The members of the Hunt and the garrison were pledged to observe the ban of my predecessor against the Larios family. Our first guests at Government House were the Marquis and Marquesa de Marzales, whom we invited to lunch.
After lunch I raised the question of the Hunt; I asked the Marquis if he would accept the position of Vice-Patron; this had been proposed by my predecessor. He refused, and said he would accept nothing but M.F.H. The Hunt continued that season under Colonel Barne as M.F.H., but had little sport, and the area in which hunting was allowed was very restricted and almost absurd; the farmers and Lord Bute, who were friends of the old Marquis, quite naturally denied their country.
I refused, however, to interfere in any way with the committee. When I went home on leave in June, 1934, I was tackled by Lord Granard and Lord Bute, and urged to overrule the committee; they threatened that the King would order me to do so, but I would not be bullied.
On my return to Gibraltar, however, I explained the situation to the committee; they could either get the old country restored, or they could go on hunting in a restricted area of rocks about the size of a croquet lawn; I personally would offer no opinion. I think the proposal to make my wife Joint Master with the old Marquis emanated from Mrs. Peatt, wife of the officer who hunted the hounds; anyhow, it was accepted and, from that day, the Royal Calpe Hunt has not looked back.
The opening meet was held the following year at Guadecorte Farm, and before moving off, I made a speech restoring the former relations, and all was well. It was at that very place that I last saw the old Marquis at a meet about ten days before he died in 1938. He died happily, and his last few years were a joy to him; he used to go about on his white pony, and his advice was sought and followed.
Left to right : Major C.H.S. Townsend RAVC, Pablo Larios, Marquis de Marzales, Mr A.B. Hankey ( 1928 )
I shall always be proud to have brought that very unfortunate affair to an end, and to have seen the old Marquis restored to happiness so that he died as he would have wished; to have seen the Don Pablo's Fund established (when I left there was over £300 subscribed to save the Royal Calpe Hunt from any evil day); and to have had the pleasure of presenting the Marquess with a beautiful silver salver, from past and present members of the Royal Calpe Hunt, as a testimony to what her great husband did through all those years for the officers of Gibraltar.
The Royal Calpe Hunt provided some amusing stories. One day, a few years ago, my wife, who was Joint Master, was close up to the huntsman when shots were fired at the fox by a farmer. They shouted at the farmer and he apologized profusely because he had missed the fox, and he added that if he had had another cartridge, he would probably have got it!
In 1937, after General Franco had given permission for hunting in Spain to be resumed, there was a meet at Los Barios, a place which had seen a lot of fighting in the early days of the war. My wife, who was riding with Captain Fellowes, R.N. and the Field, saw a man come out of his house waving his arms; my wife thought he must be expressing joy at seeing the hounds again, but she discovered he had his fists clenched and was furious; he thought that all those in pink coats must be Reds!
On another day this same winter, a sentry stopped someone riding in Spain with a red ribbon on the horse's tail; he snatched off the ribbon and ground it into the sand with his heel. After that, kickers had to wear yellow ribbons! A few months after my arrival at Gibraltar, with the help of Lieutenant-Colonel Hewitt, commanding the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, I was able to re-introduce the old "Ceremony of the Keys', which for many years had been allowed to lapse. The keys are handed over to the custody of each Governor at his installation, and are kept in Government House.
There is a "Key Sergeant" who is officially recognized by the War Office. At official dinners, as soon as the guests are seated, the Key Sergeant, accompanied by a drummer, marches round the dinner table and hands the keys to His Excellency the Governor, who places them on a cushion in front of him.
Every Wednesday the battalion on duty, accompanied by its band and drummers in full dress, mounts the Guard at Government House, and in the evening the Ceremony of the Keys is held. An escort from the battalion on duty, with the band and drums, halts at Government House to collect the Key Sergeant and the Keys, They then march through the main street to Grand Casemates where the Key Sergeant goes through the old historic process of locking the gates.
During this process the band and drums play suitable music. As the Key Sergeant approaches the main gate he is challenged by a sentry with: "Halt! Who goes there". He replies: "The Keys." The sentry then says: "Whose Keys" The Sergeant replies: "King George's Keys." The sentry says: "Pass, King George's Keys. All's well' The ceremony concludes with the hauling down of the regimental flag.
The Ceremony of the Keys - Casemates Gibraltar ( 1950s )
The Keys are then marched through the town and handed back to the custody of the Governor. This ceremony is very popular; it is watched by large crowds, which include people of every nationality from the various touring ships. Previous to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in July, 1936, life in Gibraltar was very pleasant.
Spain was open, and everyone was able to ride and motor in that beautiful country; the greater part of Gibraltar used to go into Spain on Sundays for bathing and picnics. On two occasions my wife drove herself home through Spain and France. Each year, at our King's Birthday Parade, a Spanish General with a mounted escort used to attend, and the Senior General from Seville with an escort of a hundred and sixty, attended our King's Jubilee Parade.
The Military Governor of Malaga - General Urbano Palma - attending the King's birthday military celebrations at North Front (1933 )
It was a great disappointment to me that I was not able to see more of Spain. I always intended to do a tour of Spain before I left Gibraltar, but the Spanish War prevented it. Before the war, however, I did visit Seville at the time of the famous Seville Fair. I was much impressed by the Spanish dancing, and I thought that it would enliven our King's Birthday Garden Party if I got some of the Spanish girls to come down and dance in our garden, but when I went into the question I found the price was quite prohibitive.
In those days one could travel in French and Spanish Morocco. I took a party of thirty-five officers to French Morocco to visit the French battlefields in the Riff country which we were shown over by the French Commanders and Staff. Later, my wife and I took a car across to Tangier and spent a most delightful motoring fortnight. We visited Fez, Meknes, Ilfrane (in the Atlas Mountains), Casablanca, Marrakesh (a delightful place), Azron Quezzand, Tetuan, Xauen and many other places.
It was towards the end of April then and the country was just a carpet of wild flowers. I shall always remember a very stirring sight from our cottage at Europa Point. The great Marshal Lyautey's body was being transferred from France to Rabat - to the country for which he had done so much. It was borne in a French cruiser, escorted by other French cruisers and destroyers.
Madame Lyautey and family, and General Gouraud were on a French liner. Our Navy, consisting of cruisers and destroyers under an Admiral, went out about eighteen miles off Europa to meet and escort the French ships. The sight of all these ships, steaming at full speed straight at my cottage and, when almost within a hundred yards, changing course at full speed and going down the Straits, is one I shall never forget.
Later, I attended a talk, given by Marshal Lyautey's nephew to the Royal Empire Society on French Morocco, when he described that scene and the impression it had made. It was during my time at Gibraltar that His Majesty King George V died; I shall never forget listening to those closing hours on the wireless. From the balcony of Government House, the Accession of King Edward VIII was proclaimed, and from the same place, later, our present King was proclaimed.
A rainy day for the proclamation of King Edward VIII in the presence of the Gordon Highlanders (1936 )
The Coronation was fittingly observed in Gibraltar by a parade in the morning; a banquet at Government House in the evening, followed by a ball on the tennis court, the garden being illuminated; and a garden party the next day. One of the great delights of Gibraltar was the presence of the Royal Navy.
I first met the Navy at Constantinople under that grand sailor, Admiral Sir John de Robeck, and I made great friends with them all - Tyrwhitt, Chatfield, W. W. Fisher, John Kelly, Webb Thesiger and others. I have a photo of Lord Chatfield and myself playing hockey together at Constantinople. He was then a Vice-AdmiraL It was, therefore, a great joy to me to meet the Navy again at Gibraltar, where, in normal times, both the Home and the Mediterranean Fleets used to meet both before and after their manoeuvres.
Many naval officers' wives came at that time, and life was very gay. I rejoice to think of our last official dinner in Gibraltar; it was given when the First Sea Lord, Admiral Lord Chatfield, came out to say farewell to both Fleets - the Home Fleet under the late Sir Roger Backhouse, and the Mediterranean Fleet under Sir Dudley Pound—and there were sixteen Admirals present.
I shall always remember the kindness of the Navy to our soldiers in Gibraltar. Few of His Majesty's ships ever went out for exercises without taking some soldiers with them, both officers and men. I went home to England, in Jubilee Year, in H.M.S. Queen Elizabeth, with my old and valued friend, the late Admiral Sir William Fisher.
HMS Queen Elizabeth - South Mole (1930s )
During the war in Abyssinia, we were fortunate in having more of His Majesty's ships based on Gibraltar, and it became necessary at one time to have booms across the harbour entrances at night. It was soon after that that H.M.S. Capetown brought Haile Selassie, the Emperor of Ethiopia, to Gibraltar, where he stayed for some three days before he proceeded to England. He was exceedingly courteous, dignified and grateful.
Haile Selassie in Gibraltar ( 1936 )
It is curious that in my experience I should have had the last Sultan of Turkey, Amannullah, and Haile Selassie all through my hands in my various Commands. Soon after that, clouds began to gather, and Gibraltar was never to be the same during the rest of my time.
On 18th July, 1936, the unfortunate Spanish Civil War began.(See LINK) I was on leave in England at the time; I returned by the next boat to find Gibraltar flooded out with refugees from Spain. I was never free of that problem until the day I left. In normal times Gibraltar has a population of some 18,000 and is much overcrowded at that. Some 4,000 men, women and children who are British subjects, live at La Linea, the nearest Spanish town, as it is cheaper, and some 3,000 Spanish labourers came from La Linea daily.
The frontier with thousands of people trying to get into Gibraltar ( 1936 )
There was severe fighting in and around La Linea, and these British subjects, and many Spanish, naturally took fright and rushed into Gibraltar. It was impossible to stop them, as one could not refuse admission to British subjects. Gibraltar was at once dangerously overcrowded.
These people lived in caves, on hulks, in hovels of every kind, many in the streets, in taxis, in gardens and in a camp we prepared for them. For months we fed the worst cases in camp. Eventually, after giving them ample notice, I had to close it. They would obey no orders, however, and many just lay down in Commercial Square and refused to move.
At the start of the war I had issued a warning notice that the policy of the British Government was one of strict neutrality, and that people in Gibraltar were to take no part in politics. The Spanish refugees were told that they must leave Gibraltar; if they were Nationalists they could return to Nationalist Spain, and if Government supporters they could be taken by British destroyers to a port in Government Spain, but they could not remain in Gibraltar.
I could not help being amused when, in the midst of my definite warnings that the policy of the British Government was one of strict neutrality, a man came into my office carrying the fragments of a bomb which had been picked up in a field near San Roque; it had a steel label attached to it bearing the name of a firm in Shepherd's Bush! I had tremendous satisfaction in sending that label direct to the C.I.G.S. On investigation it was found that the firm no longer existed!
In the early days of the war, the Government ships were in command of the Straits and, from the Governor's Cottage at Europa, I have witnessed a lot of bombing and shelling in the Straits. I saw the engagement, early in the war, in which a Government destroyer was sunk by a Nationalist cruiser.
I witnessed the Government battleship Jaime I steam slowly past Algeciras, within a mile of it, and fire its broadsides into that undefended town. The first shell hit the house of the British Vice-Consul; he and his wife had a very narrow escape.
Refugees and residents watching the Jaime I bombarding Algeciras (1936 )
General Franco started to put guns to defend the Bay, and he mounted a number of approximately 6-inch guns at Carnero and at various other points, and some 12-inch howitzers near Palayo; these, however, had been removed before I left.
Our Press made a certain amount of copy in respect of these guns and the danger to Gibraltar. In my opinion General Franco never had any hostile intention of any kind against Gibraltar, and his intention from start to finish was to safeguard his coast from any repetition of the Jaime I incident narrated above. In that no one can blame him. In the earlier days of the war, it was interesting to see ships carrying Moorish troops being conveyed across from Ceuta to Algeciras by Nationalist trawlers and gunboats, and running the risk of being bombed from the air.
At 3 a.m. one morning in August, 1938, we were all woken up at Governor's Cottage by a terrific bombardment only a few miles off in the Straits, and we realized that a naval engagement was taking place. Apparently the Government destroyer Jose Luis Diez which had been repaired in France, was making her way back to rejoin the Government Navy.
She had been waiting for a dark night to dash through the Straits, and decided to go that night; she ran into a flotilla of Nationalist destroyers and a cruiser. The battle lasted about twenty minutes; we could see all the flashes. At 3.35 a.m. she limped into Gibraltar in a sinking condition. She asked for refuge, which was accorded, and she was berthed in the naval harbour. She had an enormous hole in her starboard side, which extended seven feet below the water-line.
The Spanish Government destroyer Jose Luis Diez in Gibraltar (1938 )
A few bodies were found in this hole and it is believed that some twenty other bodies had floated out through it. She had a crew of about 160 on board. We were at once engaged in a most difficult International Law problem. General Franco's destroyers gathered round outside the entrances to our harbour, lying out at night without lights, and often inside our territorial waters, causing constant protests from our naval authorities.
It was at first thought that by International Law she could only stay twenty-four or forty-eight hours, and the Nationalists thought she would make a bolt for it. As, however, belligerent rights had not been accorded to General Franco, the matter was most difficult, and I sent a number of telegrams to our Government on the subject.
The situation was that our naval authorities could not repair her in view of our strict neutrality, and no civil firm would touch her, as their Spanish workmen would immediately have been forbidden by General Franco to enter Gibraltar. When I left Gibraltar it had been agreed that she should be given three weeks in which to effect local repairs herself and go out, otherwise she should be interned.
Apparently after I left the time was extended, and the French rendered assistance with regard to repairs. At a later date she made a run for it, but she was engaged by General Franco's gunboats which had been watching for months, and she was hit in some vital pipe which stopped her steaming. The captain then ran her aground at Catalan Bay, (see LINK) and the crew were interned.
These are the sort of problems with which I was connected ever since the war started in July, 1936. People in this country have never realized our position in Gibraltar. They have never understood how dependent we are on Spain, and how vital it is for us to be friends with our neighbours in Spain whatever their politics.
We were not concerned with their troubles, or with Whites, or Reds, or whatever they might be. My main difficulty, as I explained before, was the over-crowding in Gibraltar and the fact that almost all our technical labour for the dockyard and for the Army and Civil Services had to come in every morning from Spain, and return there nightly to sleep, as they could not be accommodated in Gibraltar.
The Gibraltarian is not a technical man. Nearly all our carpenters and masons, and many other tradesmen are Spaniards. We depend on Spain also for all our vegetables, fruit, flowers, etc.; nothing is grown in Gibraltar. The coaling of ships is all done by Spanish labour. Gibraltar depends on being able to get some 6,000 Spanish workmen in through her gates daily and out again at night. It was very easy for people to criticize.
Coalheavers at work (See LINK)
My Senior Medical Officer, and the Medical Officer of Health, and my Senior Staff Officer kept impressing on me the danger of an epidemic, and that we were living on a volcano; they urged me to send these Spanish refugees, and our own British subjects back to La Linea by force.
In most cases this would have meant certain death. The responsibility was solely mine and I was quite prepared to accept it. I own that I did not like it, but I always comforted myself by the fact that I had been responsible for a far more serious situation in Constantinople, which is considerably larger than Liverpool, where we were inundated with Russians, Turks, Armenians and other refugees in far greater numbers, and we got through without any epidemic.
Perhaps I have been exceptionally lucky in such situations. Ever since the Spanish War started there were difficulties. At one moment Spain closed the frontier; at the next, she opened it with all sorts of reservations. The difficulties over passes were never ending. All sorts of fines were imposed on those who worked in Gibraltar. The military and civil authorities at La Linea were always at loggerheads, and our negotiations with them became most difficult.
At the same time I am quite prepared to state that the country administered by General Franco was much better administered than it had been before the war. There was at any rate a system and, although there were many delays through matters having to be referred to Burgos, I always felt that we were dealt with generously.
I was never privileged to meet General Franco, but I had many dealings with him, and I shall always be grateful to him for numerous matters in connection with Gibraltar, and especially for his consideration regarding the Royal Calpe Hunt. Naturally the first winter of the war, and before Malaga fell, we did not ask for permission to hunt in Spain but in both my last seasons General Franco was good enough to grant permission, and this will ever be gratefully remembered in Gibraltar.
It may be asked why I should stress the question of hunting so much. It is for this reason: Gibraltar itself is a very confined place. At times, especially during the Levanter, it becomes very oppressive and this undoubtedly affects people's energy; it is, therefore, good for people to get right off the Rock and away into Spain. Polo, golf, bathing and other amusements take place in Spain, but the Royal Calpe Hunt, dating from the days of Wellington, has afforded sport to almost the whole garrison and has been much appreciated by all.
Harington with members of the Hunt and Spanish friends just before the Civil War had started (1934 )
During the first eighteen months of the war I never went into Spain, and I know what it means to be confined to the Rock. My alternative was to get off the Rock in my yacht. I do not know what the future may hold for Gibraltar, but I like to think that before the war we were on such friendly terms with the Spaniards that I had actually arranged to exchange visits between the British regiments in Gibraltar and the Spanish regiments at San Roque and Algeciras, and I had hopes that the British regiments would be allowed to go into that ideal country for training.
It may be interesting at this point to give an account of our relations with the Germans at Gibraltar. On every occasion on which we were visited by German warships wewere much impressed by the bearing and courtesy of the German sailors, who never passed my guard at Government House without saluting. One day, during the war, I was on the roof of Government House with my wife when we saw a German battleship approaching the harbour with her flag at half mast.
On enquiry, I found that the German pocket-battleship Deutschland, which had been bombed off the Spanish coast, was coming in with twenty-six dead and eightywounded on board. We took the wounded to our hospital at once. The Germans do not bury at sea if within reach of a port so, at their request, we buried the dead in our cemetery - a very impressive ceremony at which both the British Admiral and I attended. Before the funeral, however, the Deutschland for some reason was ordered to go to sea, leaving only her chaplain, and the ceremony was, therefore, wholly British.
The funeral cortege of the German sailors of the Deutschland on their way to the cemetery at North Front - note two locals giving the Nazi salute in the last photograph ( 1937 - Photos obtained with thanks from Andrew Schembri and Jason Mesilio )
North Front memorial commemorating the burial of the German sailors. The lower section was removed after the start of WW II (1937 - With thanks to John Giblin's grandfather Captain Francis Samuel Lewis RAMC who was stationed in Gibraltar from 1935 to 1941 and who took this photograph )
The day after the burial, I was asked by the German Government if the bodies could be dug up and sent back to Germany, to which I agreed. The wounded were attended to in our hospital and treated with every care. These cases were pathetic - almost all were suffering from terrible burns. My wife and I saw them everyday - a sight which we shall never forget. Two or three died, but the remainder, after weeks and months, recovered.
It was Hitler who 'ordered' that the remains be exhumed and returned to Germany. The photograph shows the reburial cerenony - It is possible that the grey-jacketed fellow is Der Furher himself ( 1937 - Photo by Captain Francis Samuel Lewis RAMC )
The Germans were so appreciative of the goodness of our medical officers, nursing sisters and medical orderlies, that they honoured them by the grant of German decorations and signed photographs, etc. The highest German order of the Red Cross was awarded to the British Admiral, Rear-Admiral Evans, and to myself, which we greatly appreciated.
These presentations were made to us in a German battleship after a very moving ceremony. About this time a terrible accident happened to one of ournew destroyers, H.M.S. Hunter. She struck a mine in Spanish waters and arrived in Gibraltar practically in half; she was literally held together by one sheet of iron deck. She had many wounded - again mostly burns.
General Harrington visits the Deutschland
General Harrington aboard the Deutschland yet agian, possibly on the occasion of the ceremony in which he was awarded the German Red Cross
Our sailors and the German sailors were in our hospital together, and the pressure on our medical staff was so great that I had to wire to the War Office for help. Four nursing sisters were sent out by air; only one of them had ever flown before. They arrived one afternoon and two of them insisted upon going on duty within two hours of arrival.
I was truly proud of them. The heroism of Lieutenant-Commander Scourfield can never be forgotten. He was in his cabin aft when the explosion occurred. He rushed forward, jumped through two decks into the bowels of the ship in thick oil and himself saved five men, one of whom died afterwards. It was a glorious act of gallantry which was rightly rewarded by the grant of the Albert Medal. While she was in dock at Gibraltar, my wife and I went over the ship with Lieutenant-Commander Scourfield, but it was the other officers who explained to us what he had done. He had certainly added a page to the glorious traditions of our Navy.
To return to the Germans. Just after the crisis in September, 1938, and while our own Fleet was still mobilized, I got a message to say that the Deutschland wished to pay a courtesy visit to Gibraltar, and almost my last official function in Gibraltar was to entertain her captain and officers to lunch at my cottage at Europa.
The captain was a charming man who had been a prisoner in England during most of the Great War. He told me how he and three others had escaped from a camp in North Wales. He walked to Liverpool where he got the train to London. Unfortunately at the far end of his carriage there was a crusty old man who suddenly said: "Why aren't you serving your country?"
He was not quick enough, neither did he know enough English to say:"I am on leave." By the time he reached the next station the crusty old man saw that he was reading The Times upside down. That did it; the guard and police were called, and he taken back to his prisoner-of-war camp. He told me that he did not mind that so much, but that he was so sorry for our old Commandant who got the sack. He was much impressedby our method of punishment; they did not stop his tennis or his golf, but only his beer for a fortnight!
It had an amazing sequel. During the crisis in September, he had been watched by H.M.S. Hood and four of our destroyers somewhere off Cadiz, and now, with our Fleet still mobilized, here were the sailors of H.M.S. Hood (who was also in Gibraltar) and the sailors of the Deutschland going about arm in arm, the greatest of friends, playing football, and visiting cafes and cinemas together.
A team from HMS Hood on the left playing against another from the Deutschland at the Naval Ground - Gibraltar (1936 )
Our sailors will do that with the Germans, for whom they have the greatest respect, and with no one else. I always say that if the sailors of both nations could have been sent, as I saw them, round the capitals of Europe, there would be no danger of war. I was struck by the fact that one never saw a German sailor in Gibraltar who had not got a parcel under his arm.
I told the captain of the Deutschland that I was curious to know what was in those parcels. He said he would find out. The next day he brought me the answer: "Japanese silk, and they tell them in your shops that it is made in Germany!" To show our relationship I add some correspondence with the German Admirals. In view of what has happened, since the reading is pathetic, for I am convinced, as always, that they never wished for what is happening at the moment.
I quote these letters.
My letter of August 18, 1937. Government House, Gibraltar.
My dear admiral, I want before you leave Gibraltar to send you a line to thank you most sincerely for the way in which you have conveyed the thanks of Der Fuhrer and your great nation, and your great Navy for the help given by the Staff and Medical Services in Gibraltar to your sailors in the Deutschland.
I want you to take back with you the knowledge that every act that was done for your good sailors was done with that grand spirit of goodwill and fellowship which is so essentialto both of our great nations. It brought out that great characteristic of the sailors, soldiers and airmen of both of our nations that we always honour the brave and always helpothers in time of trouble.
May I say that you did the whole ceremony so beautifully, and in so dignified a manner in a way that I shall never forget. I feel that in every act and in every sentence you express you were helping to strengthen that essential link between our two nations. I hope that you will express to Der Fuhrer my deepest thanks for this great honour which has been bestowed upon myself and on those under me.
May I ask that my sympathy be extended to the relatives of those who lost their live sin this tragic incident, and may I hope also that the wounded will shortly be restored to health, and hope that they will always keep a place in their hearts for those who helped themin Gibraltar.
To me this honour has an added sentiment. I finish my active career in a few months and I shall always treasure the fact that the last honour I can receive comes from the nation for which I have the most profound respect.
Again my most sincere thanks. Yours very sincerely, (Sgd.) C. H. Harington, Gibraltar.
His reply Gibraltar, 19th August, 1937 - Admiral Scheer. Der Hottenchef your excellency,
I tender to your Excellency my sincere and warmest thanks for your kind letter, and at the same time for your friendly reception afforded to the ships under my command and to myself in Gibraltar. I would like to assure your Excellency how much I welcome such occasions, when as soldier to soldier and as man to man we come closer to each other.
I see in this the best way of promoting understanding between our countries. On this depends so much the mutual well being of our nations and the consequent well being of Europe and its civilization. We soldiers and sailors have the same cares and tasks and the same understanding in respect to each others difficulties. From these identical aspects emanates our mutual esteem and regard.
May this in the future be the case between our two nations in all respects. It is a pleasure to me to be of the same opinion as your Excellency on this point. I wish you with repeated thanks all the best for the future, and also for the time when after active service you return home.
With my most respectful sentiments, I remain, Yours sincerely, (Sgd.) R. Carls, Admiral,
The Admiral Scheer at Gibraltar - she was one of the ships of the International Control naval units during the Spanish Civil War - she sported her so-called neutrality by having red, white and black strips painted on her forward gun turrets (1936 )
And a letter of 25th November, 1937, from Cadiz from Admiral Marschal Cadiz.
My dear and honoured excellency, the days spent at Gibraltar were for my flagship, and for myself so pleasant and delightful in every way that I would again tender you my heartiest thanks and those of my officers, for your kind reception.
During the days of our stay I have again observed, with particular pleasure, how quickly English and German train of thought can reckon on mutual understanding. During those few days, to my great pleasure, so many British officers came on board the Deutschland and so many German officers visited British ships, that I can only draw one conslusion there-from: here there are two navies which have the highest respect for each other as brave, courageous seamen andsoldiers, as well as good, noble, fair-minded comrades.
Like your Excellency, it is my one and sincere wish that the bulk of the British and German nations should also have the same mutual understanding and respect, as both navies have demonstrated in Gibraltar. It is with great pleasure that I tender to Lady Harington and yourself our particular thanks for such an interesting and attractive lunch.
We have felt really at home in your house, which inspires everywhere such proud and noble traditions.With kindest regards to Lady Harington, as well as to your-self, dear Excellency, in which the Commander and my officers join.
I remain. Yours very sincerely, (Sgd.) Wilhelm Marschall.
I also have a letter from Admiral Fischel and a very cordial message from Admiral Raeder acknowledging our help to the wounded of the Deutschland. I state quite frankly that those German naval officers and men never wanted to find themselves at war with us.
Their one hope was to be friends. Gibraltar has many attractions, and there is much of historical interest. There are the old galleries and fortifications, (see LINK) the Moorish Castle, (see LINK) the historic and charming little village of 200 Catalan Bay, the water works and catchment areas, Rosea Bay (sic) (see LINK) into which Nelson's body was brought, and the little cemetery, ever fresh with growing flowers, containing the bodies of those who died of wounds after the Battle of Trafalgar.
Then there is the old convent, now known as Government House, with King's Chapel attached. That chapel was very dear to me; it is a lovely old building, and the service was always most moving; I can never forget the Governor's Prayer, which runs as follows:
"Almighty God, from whom all power is derived, we humbly beseech Thee to bless Thy Servant the Governor of Gibraltar and grant that the sword which our Sovereign Lord the King hath committed into his hand, he may wield in Thy faith and fear, and use according to Thy blessed will and word. Let Thy grace enlighten him, Thy goodness confirm him and Thy providence protect him."
The Upper Rock has a peculiar fascination of its own with its unrivalled views and beautiful wild flowers, St. Michael's Cave, and the monkeys and their legends. One of the greatest attractions of Gibraltar is undoubtedlythe Alamada Gardens; they lie just below the Rock Hotel and are quite beautiful.
Mr. Edwards, the well-known gardener, deserves the very greatest credit for all the improvements which he has effected there. I was fortunate, during my time in Gibraltar, to see many improvements which I feel will be of lasting benefit. These include the new landing-sheds at Waterport, the Tuberculosis Hospital as our memorial to King George V, the new tenement buildings, the new fire station, Toc H., etc.
I was privileged to lay the foundation stones of the hospital and of the first new tenements. I have many happy memories of sport and games in Gibraltar. It was always a pleasure to me to entertain the Australian and English cricket teams on their way to and from Australia. One Sunday, while taking the salute after Church Parade, I had Bradman and his team behind me.
As I saluted, Bradman took off his hat and I am quite prepared to say that the soldiers, on that occasion, looked Don Bradman in the face instead of the Inspecting Officer; in fact some papers, in their ignorance, went so far as to say that Bradman had taken the salute!
Donald Bradman taking the salute with General Harington
During my time Mr. G. O. Allen brought out a cricket side and we had most enjoyable games. The Yorkshire Gentlemen also brought a side as the K.O.Y.L.L were stationed at Gibraltar at the time. Being a Vice-President of the Y.G. I played in a match for them. With that match I ended my long and happy cricket career by sending the out of the ground for six off the bowling of Major Wells Cole.
That was the last ball I ever hit at cricket for clean bowled me with the next! There were many good football matches, and several visiting teams came to Gibraltar. There were all the Services games, especially when the Fleets were in, also boxing. Then there were the races, both of the Jockey Club and the Civilian Racing Club; (see LINK) the Rowing and Swimming and Tennis Clubs; and finally the Royal Gibraltar Yacht Club, (see LINK) of which I had the honour of being Commodore for four years.
The people who ran the Civilian Racing Club during 1935 and 1936 - The Patron, sitting in the middle of the front row, is Harrington
I enjoyed that more than anything. I can never think of my yacht Maglona, which I bought from Lord Londonderry, without thinking of my "Skipper", Mr. Day. He was the skipper of the W. D. Vessel Sir Noel Birch, (see LINK) and was a remarkable personality, beloved by all. He had sailed with my predecessor, General Sir Alexander Godley.
I had never been in a yacht in my life before I got Maglona. He taught me everything, and I shall ever be grateful to him. His wise judgment, his keenness, and his delight in our successes will always remain among my happiest memories. Thanks to him, and to my very efficient crew I had five years of most enjoyable sailing, during which time I was lucky enough to win the King's Cup twice and another year I only lost it by eight seconds.
In my 1st season I won the Ocean Race Cup - a series of seven races over a course of twenty-odd miles. I sailed about fifty races each season and never enjoyed anything more. I shall always remember the kindness I received from the Royal Gibraltar Yacht Club of which I am a Life Commodore.
The mention of Maglona recalls an incident which occurred after the crisis in September, 1938. A rather gushing lady was saying how glad she was that I was in Gibraltar duringthe crisis as I had had previous experience of crises in Turkey and elsewhere. She asked me which I considered to be the worst crisis I had experienced, to which I replied: "That's easy, my worst crisis was in Maglona last year.' "Whatever do you mean?" she asked, rather haughtily.
I explained that one Sunday I was sailing Maglona in a twenty-five mile Ocean Race in a pretty rough sea, and was trying to get a bit of food at the same time. With my right hand holding the tiller, I suddenly found that my false teeth had stuck in a hard-boiled egg in the other hand!
The original caption suggests that this photograph shows Harington's predecessor - General Sir Alexander Godley, winning the King's Cup on the Maglona. Perhaps he owned the yacht before Harington.
Easily my worst crisis! There was always a very comfortable feeling of stability about Gibraltar. The police and the specials gave me great confidence and were always so kind to me. The Scouts, Sea Scouts, and Guides were very good, and so keen. The convent schools and Brympton were efficient and happy; and I do not forget our Christmas Day visit to the Little Sisters of the Poor when we helped, our aprons on to serve out food to the poor.
The Colonial Hospital, which will ever be associated with the name of Dr. Lochhead, did excellent work, and on my last visit I was glad to see the recent additions which have been made. I am, of course, talking of Gibraltar before the crisis of September, 1938.
It is a matter of great satisfaction to me to hear of the splendid response made by Gibraltar to the calls of my successor when the situation became serious. Gibraltar is governed by an Executive Council, presided over by the Governor, with four ex-officio members - the next senior combatant officer, the Colonial Secretary, the Attorney-General and the Treasurer - assisted by three unofficial members nominated by the Governor.
There is also a City Council composed of four members elected by the citizens of Gibraltar, three nominated from the Services to represent the Navy, Army and Colonial Government, and two other civilians appointed by the Governor. During my last two years the Chairman was Mr. P. G. Russo, one of the elected members, who filled the office with the greatest credit and has recently, I understand, played a leading part in the work of providing extra protection against possible enemy bombardment, and I was very pleased to see his name in a recent list of Birthday Honours as having been awarded the, O.B.E.
There are also other public bodies such as the Chamber of Commerce, the Exchange and Commercial Library, (see LINK) General Workers' Union, etc. I received nothing but the greatest help and kindness from them all. It is a matter of great joy to me to think that I went through five years without one insuperable difficulty.
My task was not easy. I had to preserve the policy of the British Government as regards neutrality, and I had to be friends with Spain on whom we depended for some 3,000 Spanish day labourers, and for allowing some 4,000 British subjects to live in La Linea. All I can say is that we remained friends throughout, and that I shall always be grateful to General Franco for his sympathy towards the many problems affecting Gibraltar.
It had not been my privilege before to meet and work with the Colonial Service. I had a most happy experience, and I am most grateful to Lieutenant-Colonel A. E. Beattie, the Colonial Secretary, for his loyal and devoted help, and also to all those under him. With regard to the other Services, I think I have already expressed my deep feelings over my happy association with the Royal Navy both in Constantinople and in Gibraltar.
I have nothing but happy memories of my dealings with three Rear-Admirals, Gibraltar - Austin, Pipon and Evans - and their Staffs. As regards the Army in Gibraltar, I can only say that I received the same loyal and devoted service there as it hasbeen my privilege to receive in various parts of the world through the past twenty years of High Command.
It was a hard struggle, in October, 1938, to part with my Army life, and it was a very happy coincidence that the last unit which came under my command should have been the very battalion which I had joined forty-seven years before. To the civilian community of Gibraltar I can but say:"Thank you." Their kindness and courtesy to my wife and myself we can never forget. From people in all walks of life we received nothing but goodness.
I must now pay tribute to two great men, whose help and advice I shall always remember with gratitude - Major Pedley and Andrew Speed. Amongst his many other activities in Gibraltar, Major Pedley was for years in charge of the Boy Scouts. The Chief Scout, Lord Baden-Powell, knew his great work and, on his last visit to Gibraltar in my time, went to see Major Pedleyin his house shortly before he died. Andrew Speed, the head of Sacconi and Speed, died shortly after I left Gibraltar.
No man has rendered more faithful service to Gibraltar than Andrew Speed. His sound judgment,and his advice and service to the Executive Council will always be remembered. It was my privilege to nominate a representative of Gibraltar to attend the King's Coronation; with the goodwill of all Gibraltar, Andrew Speed and his wife attended that great ceremony.
Nearly all the month of October, 1938, I was occupied with farewell parades and visits, and I was entertained by various units and friends and by the Royal Gibraltar Yacht Club, all of which was to terminate on October 24th, when I embarked in my launch at Governor's Landing, where a Guard of Honour of the 2nd Battalion, The King's Regiment, was drawn up, and several hundreds of dear friends assembled to bid me farewell.
Unfortunately, just as I was inspecting the Guard of Honour, a perfect deluge of rain came down. I shall never forget the band and Battalion of the Royal Norfolk Regiment, playing me out from the end of the southmole to "Auld Lang Syne."
I embarked in the P. & O. Cathay and was escorted out by the destroyers Hasty and Hyperion - an honour which I shall always treasure. My late yacht Maglona (then transferred to the Royal Engineers) with my old crew, and other yachts, also escorted me out. On October xth, I reached Tilbury, and was met by my wife and motored to our new home in Sussex, where we are now safely installed.
I was succeeded by General Sir W. E. Ironside, an old friend of mine. At this time the situation in Europe was getting more serious. Gibraltar guards the gates to the Mediterranean. He at once started on making Gibraltar more secure against whatever might happen. Money was forthcoming and the defence schemes, or rather a ten-year scheme, approved by the War Office and personally by Lord Milne and Sir A. Montgomery-Massingberd, on which we had been all my tenure, was able to be accelerated by one hundred per cent.
I was the last of the old generation of Governors. They included in recent years such names as Sir George White, Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien, Sir Charles Monro, Sir Herbert Miles and Sir Alexander Godley, who had all done their best to carry on the traditions of those who went before them, from Sir George Elliot downwards. They reigned through the best days of Gibraltar as I did till the recent Spanish War came upon us.
In the previous pages I have written of Gibraltar in its best days with an open and friendly Spain. I have written of Gibraltar during the Spanish Civil War and the difficulties which were happily mostly surmounted. I have written of Gibraltar during the crisis of September, 1938, shortly beforeI left.
Since that rime all has changed. Gibraltar has gradually changed from peace to war. The war cloud suddenly appeared. My successor was employed from the first in preparing for war and he met with a loyal response from the colony. Since that time, however, things have developed seriously as regards Gibraltar. As I write attacks are being made on the Rock.
The women and children have been evacuated and Gibraltar is prepared for whatever may happen. Gibraltar may, I fear, have a bad time and I am sorry for my many friends still therein. I do not think that the danger from the air is very great as there is so much cover. I was always told that in order to hit Gibraltar you had to drop your bomb eight miles before you got there. Damage will occur and the town itself will probably be set on fire.
The danger to my mind is from guns mounted in Spain, which might make the harbour and dockyard untenable. In the Spanish War Franco mounted some heavy howitzers at Palayo, not far from Algetiras. These were never directed against us, but were to defend the Straits against the Reds. At the same time they could have reached our harbour and so could guns if mounted near San Roque or the Queen of Spain's Chair.
We no doubt have our means of dealing them. How often at Gibraltar I used to look across thebay and say how I wished we had the hinterland in Spain. We just wanted the country of The Royal Calpe Hunt—twenty miles round. The days of the old siege have all gone. Gibraltar has withstood thirteen sieges. No more firing of red-hotshot. One must have room nowadays owing to the range of modern guns.
I remember how Henry Wilson used to tell me that the Chatalja was the finest natural position in the world, and so it was before modern artillery. Later I re-connoitred it and subsequently manned it against a threat to Constantinople by the Greeks. I always think the reason that Mustapha Kemal made Ankara the capital of Turkey instead of Constantinople was because of the range from Chatalja.
I often used to wonder whether in our happy days with Spain we could not have acquired that hinterland by purchase or agreement. Algeciras, San Roque, Campamento, La Linea were all more British than Spanish. They depended almost entirely on Gibraltar. All their produce came into the Gibraltar market.
Algeciras across the Bay from Gibraltar - "more British than Spanish"! ( 1890s - Jean Laurent ) (See LINK)
Algeciras was full of British visitors, I think the inhabitants would have welcomed it, certainly the farmers and supporters of the Hunt would have, and British wages would have been very acceptable. I did raise the question soon after I went to Gibraltar, but I got no support and was only told that it would take at least two divisions to hold the hinterland. That was true and it was also put forward at the time when those terrible reductions in our Army were being enforced, and for which we have paid dearly since.
The trouble of Gibraltar is lack of space for an aerodrome. One can only land on the Race Course under the very nose of a hostile Spain. An old friend of mine, Admiral Usborne, with whom I was at the Staff College, wrote a series of articles when I was Governor of Gibraltar on the old question of Ceuta versus Gibraltar and which he used to send me before publication.
The main advantage of Ceuta would have been space for the air arm. It is a pity at the moment that we do not hold both. I am deeply interested in Gibraltar to-day not only on account of my many friends there, but from the fact that a battalion of The King's Regiment, of which I have the honour to be Colonel, is included in the garrison and has been for the past three years.
A few days afterwards I was graciously received by His Majesty the King, also by the Secretary of State for the Colonies. So ended a long and happy innings.
A careful reading of the above reveals, in my opinion, a relatively uncomplicated - not to say naive - individual who was forced to grapple with complex political events that were probably well beyond him. He was most comfortable with other military men regardless of their nationality but obviously had a particularly soft spot for the rigid Junker style formality of the officer class of the German navy.
Harington was no intellectual and can certainly go down in history as one of the very few British military men who have written about Gibraltar and have failed to mention the Garrison Library. (See LINK)