Produced by Adrian Bracken and Stephen Cumming
Britain has defended “The Rock”- but in reality it is Gibraltar that has defended Britain. Three times in the last 3 centuries, it is Gibraltar, and the heroic defence by its' mixed population of Jewish, Arab, Indian, Genoese, Maltese, English and Spanish that has blunted the attacks of empires that wished to take over Gibraltar, and then Britain. The most recent being in 1940.
The series traces Gibraltar's long history, the creation of the tunnels, the building of the ramparts, the starvation, privations and innovation of its people. In the 1930's Gibraltar gave great humanitarian aid to both sides in the Spanish Civil War. Whole populations of starving refugees were nurtured by Gibraltar's people, Spanish Republican and Nationalist alike received shelter and protection.
With the new war declared in Europe, by 1940 Gibraltar was being heavily fortified. The peace years where there had been cricket pitches and racecourse, there was now a wartime airport. New defensive tunnels were carved into the limestone by British and Canadian engineers, the “useless mouths”, 80% of the population - mainly the elderly, women and children – were evacuated, Gibraltar stood alone facing Hitler's “Operation Felix“– the plan to seize Gibraltar. Gibraltar stared Hitler in the eye. Hitler blinked first! Gibraltar was the guardian of the Mediterranean. Nothing passed without being seen. Both Axis and Allied powers used spies and subterfuge to gather intelligence. Some caught and executed, some turned to Allied use. Italian frogmen mined British ships, using a supposedly neutral Spain as a base. French, German and Italian aircraft bombed it, Dwight D Eisenhower (later US President) directed Operation Torch – the invasion of North Africa in 1942 - from deep in Gibraltar's tunnels. Polish and French POW and SOE agent escape lines ended in Gibraltar. General Sikorski – the Polish leader – made his last- ill fated - flight from Gibraltar. Warships were repaired, planes refuelled, invasion fleets assembled, and intelligence gathered - all on Gibraltar.
If Hitler had successfully invaded Britain in 1940 we might all be telling a very different story. The fact that he didn't was largely due to Gibraltar and its' people. This is Gibraltar's story using Images, reconstructions, Interviews, stunning footage, and previously unseen archive.
“Defending the Rock” - Gibraltar's Story. A three century story of defiance and courage, and how it now stands...Alone.
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