The People of Gibraltar
1937 - HMS Hunter - Gibraltar

In May 1937 - during the Spanish Civil War - the stereotype of German efficiency was given a jolt. The crew of the pocket battleship Deutschland was caught napping when their ship was hit by Republican bombs off Ibiza. 30 sailors were killed.

The Deutschland in Gibraltar after the attack

By a coincidence the Gibraltar based destroyer HMS Hunter was hit by a mine on May 13th 1937 killing 9 crewmen and seriously injuring others. Both ships were part of the ironically called Non-intervention patrols and both ended up in Gibraltar at the same time to have their injured looked after and their dead buried.  

A badly damaged HMS Hunter brought back to Gibraltar

However . . . anybody who might be interested in looking up these two incidents will find plenty of details on the Deutschland but hardly anything on the Hunter. A pity as during the Civil War, HMS Hunter was responsible for saving the lives of hundreds of Spaniards from Franco’s advancing forces by taking them on board and bringing them to Gibraltar.

My brother Eric who was about 10 at the time witnessed the funeral cortege of both sets of casualties. The difference between them was impressive. When the German dead were buried, a few officials and the odd spectator looked on. The one for the Hunter on the other hand was attended by dockyard workers, trade unionists and other left-wing locals and by just about the entire Spanish refugee population on the Rock. I suspect it is still one of the largest ever seen in Gibraltar. 

The following, taken by a local photographer M.A. Benyunes  are the only ones I have ever been able to unearth that record the funeral procession of the men of HMS Hunter. On the whole I think my brother got it right. It was an impressive vote of thanks.

Comment on the back of the above photograph – possibly by somebody who bought the set - My guess is that he or she was a Spanish

Comment on the back of the above photograph – “Contratorpedero” can be interpreted as an alternative Spanish word for "destroyer"