The People of Gibraltar
1845 - The Loreto Nuns - 24. Return to the Rock

Mr Martin and William Jones - Miss A Garcia and Miss E Romero
Miss M McManus and Mrs J J Dunne - Dr Howes and Miss Olga Giraldi
Brother Foley Sir Kenneth Anderson - Captain Viscount Stansgate (Tony Benn)
R C S Stanley and the Reverend Mgr R J Fitzgerald

Eventually Gibraltarian families began returning from England, Jamaica, Madeira and Tangier to an ‘empty’ Rock as early as May 1944. There was virtually nothing in Gibraltar other than the military garrison, the shops necessary to meet the occasional needs of military men and those few Spanish women who came in every day to work as housemaids, cooks, washerwomen and so on. For the first eighteen months or so the returning Gibraltarians had to start from scratch. There were no private cars, no petrol, no ready-made clothes, no toy shops, no schools, no new books, comics or magazines . . . 

A school was opened at “Plata Villa” in Witham’s Road where Mr Martin’s Day and Boarding School for Boys had been early in the century. It comprised Infants, Primary and Secondary children, girls and boys, all in the one building. Aircraftman 1st Class William Jones, MA, RAF was released from all Service duties to act as Headmaster of this Emergency School from the time it opened September 18th 1944. 

A derelict St Joseph's School at Plata Villa
Other RAF personnel used to come along to help in the school when they were free from Service duties. At times the requirements of the Service prevented these men from attending the school and Mr Jones was left to conduct the whole school single-handed.
Some idea of the difficulties encountered by these RAF volunteer teachers in the early days of the school may be understood when it is known that for blackboards they used the backs of classroom doors. Paper and chalk originated in Service Orderly rooms. Teachers’ desks, blackboards and elementary text books were in short supply in the Primary School and text books for Mathematics, English, French and Latin were desperately needed in the Secondary School which was also short of suitable exercise books for English, Mathematics, French, Latin, History and Geography. Mr Jones noted in his School Log Book:
Teachers are carrying on gallantly—all are very enthusiastic. Most of them are coming during their own time in addition to time already arranged. . . Staff (are) labouring under great difficulties owing to lack of stationery and suitable text-books and blackboards.
As only a small percentage of the Gibraltarians had returned at this time, the secondary school consisted of only thirty-one girls and twenty-nine boys, who were duly tested and graded according to ability. The Army Psychiatrist said that the Intelligence Test set by the Army for children between the ages of eleven and fifteen indicated that the intellectual ability of the Gibraltar child was above average by comparison with the British child of the same age group. Nevertheless the range of attainment was :
. . very wide. The subject teachers feel that their classes could be divided into at least four different sections. This applies particularly to Mathematics, English and French.
When the Christian Brothers returned in April they took over the education of the boys. Mr William Jones, MA remained as Head of the Girls’ Department until July 31st 1945 when he was posted to Scotland having laid the foundations   once   again   for   an educational system in Gibraltar. Other teachers on his staff in the girls’ school were Miss A Garcia, Miss E Romero, Miss M McManus and Mrs JJ Dunne MA. 
In June 1945 The Senior girls and boys remained but the Infants and Juniors moved out of Plata Villa; the Infant and Junior girls moved to St Joseph’s School, now on Scud Hill and the Infant and Junior boys went back to the old school building in Rosia Parade. In September the Senior Girls’ School Certificate class moved up to the old crypt under St Joseph’s Church. The rest of the older girls and boys stayed on at Plata Villa.

At the beginning of September Dr Howes, Miss Olga Giraldi and Brother Foley (now teaching the boys’ School Certificate class and in charge of the boys) held a meeting in Plata Villa to discuss problems in connection with the Secondary education of the girls as the Loreto Nuns had not yet arrived. Brother Foley agreed to be responsible for the organisation of the Girls’ Secondary Department from September 25th when the school was due to open again and for the rest of the Christmas Term. He would merge the School Certificate girls’ and boys’ classes and reorganise the school so as to have a properly graded Secondary School for the Loreto Nuns when they arrived. 

The original caption reads as follows "Brother Foley was Headmaster of the Grammar School from 1945-1954." He was later appointed Educational Advisor to the Government of Gibraltar. He was also my headmaster while I was in secondary school at the Sacred Heart. His treatment of pupils was, in my opinion, unnecessarily harsh

During those first eighteen months before Loreto returned there were visits to the school by the Governor Lieutenant General Sir Kenneth Anderson, Group Captain Viscount Stansgate (later known as “Anthony Wedgewood Benn MP” after he tried to disclaim his title), the Colonial Secretary RCS Stanley Esq., CMG, OBE, the Rt Reverend Mgr RJ Fitzgerald DD and all the other notables and dignitaries Gibraltar could muster at that time. An important visitor as far as the girls were concerned was Mr SEV Luke, Head of the Mediterranean Department of the Colonial Office who promised to expedite the passage of the Loreto Nuns to Gibraltar. Travel was still difficult in the aftermath of the War.

Sir Kenneth Anderson