The People of Gibraltar
1921 – British Soldiers in Gibraltar – A Spanish View

As a tourist guide of the Rock . . . totally worthless I think; But as an example of how an early 20th century Spanish visitor with preconceived ideas of what Gibraltar was all about – in this case it was about the soldiers of the Garrison – it is probably worth a quick read. Anyway, here is my own translation of a small section on Gibraltar as seen by the Spanish journalist, writer, historian and sociologist, José Cascales Muñoz.

José Muñoz in his Madrid office
As we travelled from Algeciras to Gibraltar, we contemplated the view of the Rock crowned by its impregnable fortifications. Its sheer height when approached by land, appears to be cut perpendicularly to a point, a colossal tower that has been pieced a thousand times

he North Face of the Rock
. . . a lovely if not too elegant German lady who together with another young lady, perhaps her sister, had made the trip with us, stayed at the same inn as we did – La Calpense.
We arrived when it was getting dark and immediately began to explore the town. It had been built on rocky and sterile ground, which had not proved an obstacle for the English to convert it into a green and leafy place with picturesque gardens as well as all the comforts offered by European cities. 
Muñoz must have visited the south – and especially the Alameda Gardens - as the town itself can be called many things but certainly neither leafy nor full of gardens.

The Alameda Gardens
The bustle in this town is such that it appears as if it were a London in miniature, surprisingly clean given the number of people found on all its streets and alleyways, overflowing with tobacco shops, taverns, hotels, cafes and shops among which are those that sell Indian, Chinese and Moroccan goods. 
He was right about the Indian and Moroccan merchants but I don’t think there were too many Chinese in town at that time.

Kishinchand Chelleram  - an Indian bazaar style store beside a serious tobacconist shop in Main Street
The population, the most heterogeneous I have ever come across is made up of Englishmen, Jews, Moroccans, Arabs, Germans, Swiss, Belgians, and above all Spaniards who predominate and impose their language and customs on all the different classes – other than the military.
In this I suspect he was understandably mistaken. The predominant residents were originally from Genoa and Italy and it was they who imposed their traditions on the rest. Spaniards came close seconds and it was this together with the fact that Gibraltar was an almost open frontier with neighbouring Spain that ensured that Spanish formed the basis of the main language used by families and in everyday affairs – a sort of patois known locally as Llanito.  

Typical locals in a typical part of the upper town
When I observed the appearance of the soldiers of Great Britain, which I had been led to believe to be as stiff as stakes and of a lymphatic temperament, I realised I had been deceived.  Ever since I was born, I have been hearing about the gallantry of the Spanish soldier, who no doubt is the bravest in the world, but his appearance is quite frankly unattractive in comparison to the English who is generally taller, straighter, stronger and more military-looking while marching. All of which can be attributed to the healthy food he eats, as against the chickpeas and potatoes that are given to our troops. 

Reasonably well-fed and healthy - if non-too-smart looking Spanish soldiers drilling in the Neutral Ground (1930s)
To summarise, all the soldiers in Gibraltar looked like officers aided in their appearance by always carrying short swagger sticks which I was told were used by all soldiers not on duty, including the Scots whose artistic dress remind one of the uniforms used by soldiers of Imperial Rome. 

A Scottish soldier with his swagger stick (Possibly late 19th century Carte de Visite)
Their legs are covered with tight gaiters of a unique type and their legs and thighs are naked. To cover up their shamelessness, they use a short, pleated skirt which is held down from the effects of the wind by a front facing feather duster made of patent leather and bristles.

Scottish soldier on guard duty (Early 20th century)

Not sure the Scots would approve of this description of their sporran . . . 
Covering the top part of their bodies they wear a short tunic, and their heads are covered with light cloth caps. This is all very similar to what they might wear in their own country., and the British Government has discreetly been able to harmonise with its other military uniforms, as it has with their indigenous music with that of the rest of the army. 
In one of the principle streets of Gibraltar I was able to enjoy seeing the manoeuvres of a Scottish battalion in strict formation marching to the rhythm of two bag-pipes similar to those from Galicia, played by two soldiers leading from the front. P146
Fair enough.
It is not necessary to say so as everybody knows that the British army is made up of people of the merchant classes and therefore from the worst people from each house. Their families would prefer that they be killed by a bullet than that they might damage the family business.  
In so doing the British Government achieves two things – it removes from circulation a great number of lazy good-for-nothings and leaves its industries with those that can be of most use to them. It is something that does not happen in our country.  
The barracks are many and of different types. There are those for married and for single men. They are salubrious, well ventilated and of such cleanliness that they are superior to officers’ pavilions found in other countries.

Smart, tall, well-fed and healthy British soldiers on parade outside the early 18th century South Barracks (1925)
Nevertheless, wherever the sun shines, there are always shadows. In Gibraltar these take the shape of an infinite number of houses of ladies of ill repute, brothels owned mostly by people from the nearby provinces as well as a plaque of taverns overcrowded with wine and beer loving military men. There are however, enough cafés worth a visit. They are similar to those in Seville and with no shortage of singers. 

“Calle Peligro” - Gibraltar’s red-light district up to the late 1920s