Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12

Undated and unattributed photo of the British Home Fleet at anchor in the harbor at Gibraltar sometime between WW I and WW II. The Mediterranean Sea separates Spain on the left from Morocco on the right.

Since Lufthansa was a “civilian” airline they flew in specific air routes with schedules being given in advance to belligerent powers. Other airlines from neutral countries such as Portugal continued to fly unmolested and civilian flights of airliners owned by belligerent powers remained unmolested as long as the flight originated in a neutral country or was flying to a neutral country. These air routes had been negotiated before the war. BOAC flight 777 from Lisbon to England was flying on a specific air route over the Bay of Biscay and the information had been passed by the Portuguese Government per the agreement to the Luftwaffe.

Twin engine German fighter JU 88 R-1 of the type which shot down BOAC (British Overseas Airway Corporation, now British Airlines) flight 777.

A german fighter aircraft operating outside their usual patrol zone intercepted the airliner and shot it down. While claiming this was an accident, there are substantive theories that the airliner, (a DC-3 belonging to the former Dutch KLM airline, operated by a KLM crew with British civilian markings) was shot down because British actor Leslie Howard was on it. The Germans suspected he was heavily involved in espionage and he certainly could have been. The plane crashed into the Bay of Biscay and Howard died.

Best known to Americans from playing Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind, Leslie Howard from the movie trailer, 1939.

Often Lufthansa used an American made DC-3 as its main civilian airliner (its main aircraft before the war was the famous Condor 200, all of which were conveniently refitted as long range maritime patrol and attack aircraft). It is fitting that the cargo on the last flight of Lufthansa from Barcelona to Stuttgart, taking place on April 17, 1945, included seventy-nine kilograms of pig shit. German chemists extracted phosphorous from this which was needed in the manufacture of munitions.

BOAC Boeing 314 Bristol B-AGBZ moving on water; port in background, 1935-1950 period.

Franco was an evil fascist dictator responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Many of the secret graveyards where Franco’s henchmen buried the bodies are only now being found.

Spain was dependent on imports of American and British food and oil, of which the Allies could have easily stopped. They made clear they would blockade Spain by sea and completely cut-off all imports into the country (which would have produced a catastrophic famine and total collapse of the Spanish economy). There were already people starving to death in Spain at the time since the agricultural system had been dislocated during the Spanish Civil War just prior to the outbreak of World War Two.

Spain continued to sell tungsten, a rare metal and key substance in the manufacture of ammunition, otherwise known as wolfram to the Germans.

HMS Illustrious set sail from Portsmouth on Monday morning.

On August 12, 2013, BBC News posted:

A Royal Navy deployment, which will include a stop at Gibraltar, will leave UK ports over the next few days, amid tensions between Spain and the UK. A warship is due to dock at the British territory within a week, a deployment described by the MoD as “long-planned”. It comes as increased vehicle checks at the Spanish border have led to delays.

As you might imagine, Spain has long wanted Gibraltar back and the British won’t give it up. In this news story from the BBC, just published in mid-August of 2013, this issue is still a very contentious one between the two countries.

From a geopolitical point of view, it is one of the few things which gives Great Britain world political clout out of proportion to the size of its economy and what has now become its diminutive military – ships of the British Royal Navy numbering less than 30% of the ships of the US Coast Guard.

[Sources: BBC News. Images courtesy of Matrix Games Forum, RAF Museum, Gone with the Wind Trailer, Poole History Online, and BBC News.]