|Full Name||84 Crown Colony of Gibraltar|
|Alliance||Allies - Minor Member Nation or Possession|
|Possessing Power||United Kingdom|
|Entry into WW2||3 Sep 1939|
|Population in 1939||21,000|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseBritish and Dutch troops occupied Gibraltar at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula in in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession, and per the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713, it became British territory indefinitely. The promontory Rock of Gibraltar overlooked the relatively narrow entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, thus it soon became a major British Royal Navy base. It would play important roles for several war prior to and including WW2, especially after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, which made Mediterranean Sea an important link from Britain to her colonies in the Middle East and beyond.
ww2dbaseIn late 1939, construction of a modern airfield began; this airfield was extended with land reclaimed from the sea starting in 1941. Threat from the German-leaning Spain had always loomed over Gibraltar, fearing that Francisco Franco would allow German troops to march through Spain to take Gibraltar; in preparation, plans were made to make use of the elaborate underground facilities even after German occupation to report enemy movement back to Britain by radio communications. Ultimately, Spain would remain non-belligerent through the war, and Axis troops never marched in from the north. Actual attacks on Gibraltar did take place, however, coming in the form of French air raids (between Jul and Sep 1940 in retaliation of British attacks on the French fleet; causing relatively little damage), Italian air raids (between 1942 and 1944, though most took place in 1942), and Italian commando raids (frogmen swimming into the harbor to attack ships in the harbor). As a military base, Gibraltar played a critical role in coordinating convoy escort efforts particularly in the western half of the Mediterranean Sea; in fact, a great many convoys coming from the west destined for the island base of Malta originated from Gibraltar. It also hosted US General and Allied Supreme Commander Dwight Eisenhower's headquarters during Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa, whose staff made use of the miles of underground tunnels and extensive facilities within the Rock. For the final phase of the war, when combat shifted to northern Italy and in northwestern Europe, Gibraltar became a logistics center and used her drydock facilities to repair ships.
ww2dbaseThe majority of the civilian population of Gibraltar were evacuated to Britain, French Morocco (prior to the French surrender), Portuguese Madeira, and British Jamaica during the war. On 6 Apr 1944, the first group of 1,367 evacuees returned to Gibraltar from Britain. On 28 May, another group arrived from Madeira. The final group of Gibraltarians returned from Northern Ireland in 1951.
ww2dbaseAfter the war, Gibraltar remained an important British possession. In 1981, its status changed from that of a Crown Colony to a British Overseas Territory.
Last Major Update: Jun 2013
|Events Taken Place in Gibraltar|
|Malta Campaign||11 Jun 1940 - 31 Dec 1942|
|British Attacks on the French Fleet||3 Jul 1940 - 25 Sep 1940|
Gibraltar in World War II Interactive Map
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