The People of Gibraltar
1946 - The US Navy Comes to Town - Any Gum Chum?


The USS Randolph in Admiralty waters just outside the harbour   (1954 )

The regatta was the following week and we were well behind in our training. The boat we were on was a coxed four sliding-seat yola, an Italian job with an English name - the "Swift".  That morning it was anything but - it felt as if it had been made out of solid lead as we struggled to row through water that could have been made of treacle.  On calm and oily levanter days like this one it always felt that no matter how much effort you put into your oar the boat always seemed to be standing still. 

The harbour was surprisingly empty that day but just outside in Admiralty waters we could make out the bulk of a huge American aircraft carrier. Anchored a good half mile from where we were we could nevertheless hear their PA system shouting out orders to those poor sods that had for one reason or the other missed out on liberty leave that day - "Now hear this, now hear this".


"Now hear this, now hear this" . . . although usually they used their powerful PA systems rather than loud speakers

Watching warships in the harbour either from it as we were doing or from somewhere on dry land was a two a penny experience to most Gibraltarians, some of which would make it a point of honour to be able to recognise and name every ship that had ever visited the Rock. The Royal and the US Navies were of course major contributors to their long lists.

During a decade or so after the war, units of the British Home and Mediterranean fleets as well as the American 6th, were frequent visitors. Although I am unaware of the actual politics involved it seems to me that ever since 1909 when President Theodore Roosevelt sent a fleet to circumnavigate the globe to demonstrate American's growing military power that at least during a few decades after WWII the US Navy continued with this tradition of showing off her capital ships in foreign ports of call. 


The Great White Fleet   (1909 )

The 1909 show of force was known as the American Great White Fleet (See LINK). The later versions were very often simply individual - but immensely impressive capital ships - that happened to include Gibraltar in their itinerary. Ships touring the East, Middle East, the Mediterranean or even circumnavigating the globe - almost invariable called at Gibraltar.



The USS Saratoga ( 1958 )

Something that very few of us knew at the time that was that there was invariably some enterprising sailor on board who took snapshots of all the ports of call involved in the tour. The following - in chronological order and since the end of WWII - are some of the photos of Gibraltar taken during these visits.



1946 - The visit of the USS Philippine Sea



The Rock - possibly taken from the ship at anchor outside the harbour




The North face from close to the Spanish "aduana"


A rather empty Main Street - I suspect that although published in 1946, this photograph reflects Gibraltar in 1945 as by 1946 most evacuees other than those in Northern Ireland - had by then been repatriated



1947 - The visit of the USS Midway


The USS Midway on its way into port


A view of the old town from Waterport wharf


King Street - West of the Catholic Cathedral - To the right of the lady with the white skirt there was a bycicle shop called The Penny Farthing where I bought my first bicycle. It was run by a certain Mr. Payas


A local bobby


Bastion


Main Street


This photo was taken very close to 256 Main Street which was where I lived.


Local talent at Casemates Square


Main Street  - This "antique" shop was just beside the "Trocadero" a favourite waterig hole for visiting sailors


Local entertainment


The war memorial at the Buleva de las Palmeras


A rather shabby looking HMS Cormorant, a recieving ship which was later known as HMS Rooke and finally scrapped in 1949


The visit of the 1948 - USS Tarawa


Main Street - A similar view to one shown above


Main Street - The bar "El  Gallo" was a favourite with the locals at the time


A bargain. . .  perhaps



A local policeman



Watching football from the Buleva de las Palmeras - the huge coal cranes in the port background were known in Llanito - the local patois - as "manchina" (See LINK


1948 - Visit of the Valley Forge



The Rock from the air showing the large expanse of the Neutral Ground 



Fighter over Gibraltar



Airview of the town



Main Street - John Macintosh Square just to the left



Gibraltar's sister Spanish town - La Línea de la Concepción



1949 - The visit of the USS Fargo


Exquisite entertainment at the Royal Hotel Bar

1949 - The visit of the USS Tarawa





Catalan Bay



1950 - The visit of the USS Midway


Town and harbour



Shore Leave


A traditional local gharry


An acute and persistent lack of housing for repatriated refugees led to many families having to live in Nissan huts - These were built near a lagoon known as the Inundation - It was known as the Glacis Estate

1950 - The visit of USS Midway



Liberty men going ashore



Main Street

The frontier on the British side - an ironic comment as at the time of writing it was anything but pleasant to cross the frontier



The road to Spain just north of the airstrip - the bus took one across the stretch of the Neutral Ground



Catalan Bay in bad weather  (See LINK



Main altar of the Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned



The lighthouse


1951 - The visit of USS Greenwich Bay




The port



Convent Place - In fron of the Convent, the Governor's official residence 



A British submarine


1953 - The visit of USS Midway



Liberty men coming ashore



Main Street


1953 - The visit of the USS Randolph


Main Street - The building on the left was once the Exchange and Commercial Library - The sign  for the "Emporium" identified a very popular general store.


A rather unrealistic sketch of sailors walking towards the Spanish frontier


1953 - The visit of the USS Tarawa


The road to Spain 



Main Street and a well known local shop called Bata


1954 - The visit of the USS Bennington


Main Street - Sacconne and Speed on the left were a major supplier of spirits to the Royal Navy generally and to Gibraltar in particular



Prince Edward's Gate

1954 - The visit of the USS Midway



S.M. Serruya - just off Main Street - and PC 132 - Ernesto Cruz - being helpful



Another local bobby

Cliff-dwellers



Sout Port Gates



The Buleva Hebreo 



The Bull and Bush



The Rock from the War Memorial area


1954 - The visit of the USS Coral Sea


Three US Navy aircraft carriers in Admiralty waters 


Main Street - Beanland Malin was one of the biggest producers of postcards on the Rock  (See LINK)




1956 - USS Randolph


The ship outside the harbour



Scottish dancing competition outside the barracks at Casemates


Main Street - the Star of India doing a brisk trade and an unknown gentleman


1956 - The visit of the USS Ticonderoga


Arrival


Shore leave



The northern end of Main Street - the shop selling fishing tackle belonged to tghe father of a good friend of mine - Tito Torres - this area was a junction for several other streets and was known locally as "Cuatro Cantos " - the road behind the gharries was Crutchett's Ramp where my brother's family had a house - the other was Lynch's Lane



Southern area - Scud Hill on the left joining up with Cumberland Road on the right


Library Street leading from Governor's Parade to Main Street - The large palm tree is in the garden of the Garrison Library (See LINK


The Upper Rock


1957 - The visit of the USS Forrestal



Local traffic policeman


1958 - The visit of the USS Saratoga




North Front - The tall radio mast was known locally as the Eiffel Tower


Main Street and the ice-cream man


Main Street - and another view of the Bata shop and the Wine Merchants Saccone and Speed


Main Street - An Indian Bazaar and Hayward - a local favourite for foorware



The old town and Castle above Casemates


1958 - The vivit of the USS Wasp


The Rock from the Neutral Ground




1959 - The visit of the USS Intrepid


What can one say


1960 - The visit of the USS Essex


Main Street - Dialdas, an Indian Bazaar


The war monument in the Buleva de las Palmeras


1960 - The vivit of the USS Intrepid


Difficult to say what this was all about


1961 - The visit of the USS Saratoga


USS Saratoga


1961 - USS Saratoga


The North Front with airstrop in the foreground 


1962 - USS Independence


View from a window of the Moorish Castle looking towards the south along Willis Road - The moorish looking arch in the center is the entrance to waterworks found in this area


1977 - USS Nimitz


The Banque De L'indochine et de Suez  - Main Street opposite the Cathedral


Meanwhile, totally unaware that all this photographic activity had been going on all these years, we finished off our training and went back home to the Calpe Rowing Club. It took some serious coxing skill to get our boat inside our boat house but as we had done so many times before we managed it without hitting anything.

Then it was a question of shower, a quick beer and a few tapas and off home before Main Street became too overcrowded with liberty men. Young locals who should have known better took to trailling them at a discreet distance in order to pester them for chewing gum sticks which were as yet unknown at the time in Gibraltar. The request invariably used the same formula - "Any gum chum? Please sailor have you any gum chum?"


"Any gum chum?"  - This watercolour is a good representation of Lynch's Lane  (Unknown )

Two weeks later and very much against the odds, we won our maiden regatta. 



An international regatta in Gibraltar (1952 )