Invergordon Mutiny of the Royal Navy – Part 3

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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.]

Invergordon Mutiny of the Royal Navy – Part 2

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HMS Valiant had been assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet, a favorite port of call would have been Gibraltar – a port with many entertainments for sailors.


Dancing Lady
British sailors taking shore leave on Gibraltar visit the Suiza Bar to watch a Spanish dancer perform. (I must say that the bovine dancer doesn’t look too appealing.) Photo taken by famed British photographer Bert Hardy.

“Gib” was a major anchorage for the Royal Navy and the red light district was known as “the Gut.” Many a British sailor lost his virginity in the Gut, often receiving a dose of the clap in return. This was a punishable offence in the Royal Navy. (Not screwing. Getting VD)

After being on the winning side in the 1704 War of the Spanish Succession, Gibraltar was ceded to Britain “in perpetuity” under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. While a self-governing overseas territory, Gibraltar is still a possession of the British Crown. While there is a local elected body, the Governor of the territory is British and the head of state is Queen Elizabeth II. There are only 30,000 residents and in several referendums in the last fifteen years the population has voted 99% in favor of remaining under the British Crown and not being ceded to Spain.

Strait of Gibraltar as seen from an American satellite on April 14, 1994 also known as the ‘Pillars of Hercules’ in ancient times. The island of Gibraltar is the small peninsula sticking out from Spain in the mid-lower left. At this point, the Straits are only 8.7 miles wide. The Atlantic Ocean, the Straits of Gibraltar, and the westernmost portion of the Mediterranean Sea separate Spain on the left from Morocco on the right.

The strategic importance of Gibraltar is way out of proportion to its small size. The magnificent photograph above shows why Gibraltar is such a key strategic point. In the photo, Gibraltar is on the left.

View of the Strait of Gibraltar opening into the Mediterranean Sea, looking southeast from Gibraltar. Morocco is in the distance.

Gibraltar controls the narrow mouth of the Mediterranean and the British can easily choke off merchant traffic or the passage of warships into or out of the Mediterranean from Gibraltar which they have done during various wars, the most recent being World War Two. The beautiful photo above shows how narrow the Straits are.

The two amigos: Hitler and Franco give the Fascist salute while inspecting troops in Spain.

Hitler desperately wanted Franco to attack Gibraltar and Franco said he would as long as the German gave him a few things he required and delivered them before he joined the Nazi side.  The list of items was so long – including re-equipping most of the Spanish Army, Air force, and Navy, gold, huge stockpiles of food and fuel oil – it was impossible to for the Germans to fulfill as Franco knew. Nonetheless, Franco did not want the Allies to win World War Two.

He sent a division of 50,000 men to fight with the Germans in the Soviet Union. Known as the Spanish Blue Division, it was decimated over time and in 1944 under intense diplomatic pressure from the Allies, he withdrew the division. Only half of the men had survived. Franco also allowed the German state airline, Lufthansa, to continue their air service from Barcelona to Stuttgart throughout the war.

[Source: Government of Gibraltar.