Monday, May 16, 2005

New Book examines Gibraltar - RAF Links

The Rock and the Royal Air Force

Gibraltar Government in conjunction with The Maritime Air Trust will be launching the book ‘The Rock and The Royal Air Force’ next Wednesday May 18th 2005 at a reception in The Mount. Governor Sir Francis Richards and Chief Minister Peter Caruana will be present.

The author Henry Probert, and the publisher Tito Benady, will be present together with a delegation of past and present RAF Officers, headed by retired Air Chief Marshals Sir Peter Squire and Sir John Barraclough and others with local connections.

Operational commitments permitting, it is planned for an RAF Nimrod Maritime Patrol aircraft to fly-in during the period of the launch and look forward to welcoming Flight Lt John Cruickshank VC and Station Commander Chris Birks of RAF Kinloss.

Mr Cruickshank, the last surviving RAF holder of the Victoria Cross earned the highest award for valour in a heroic engagement in the Arctic Circle but he also operated during the war from Gibraltar where he formed an enduring attachment to the Rock.

A spokesman for The Trust said:

“Gibraltar’s Great Air Story is told at last by Air Historian Henry Probert. The book shortly to be published in Gibraltar and later in the UK tells a fascinating and largely untold story of the application of military and civil aviation in Gibraltar over the last century. It is a story of enduring importance to the followers of political, military and social, events alike.

While the military and naval history of Gibraltar has been well documented through the years, the same cannot be said of its air history and this study sets out to repair that omission.

Recent events following the 60th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic have highlighted the outstanding achievements of the maritime airmen in what was then RAF Coastal Command, of which Gibraltar squadrons were very much part.

With 24 submarines sunk directly, or jointly with surface ships, and half as many put out of action, they set a top-scoring record for a single Royal Air Force base in the vital struggle for control of the ocean routes as the essential prelude to the land campaigns. But important as those successes were, they were only part of the story. Key roles in support of the invasion of North Africa and the Mediterranean campaigns were to be followed in peace by the long years of the Cold War, and then the Falklands conflict, in both of which the Rock was once again an important air base.

The story shows that those pressures relaxed in peacetime so that the potential for commercial aviation asserted itself to develop the Rock into the flourishing air centre that it is today.

As the title suggests, among the many factors that shaped this striking story none have been more persistent than the unbroken presence of the Royal Air Force and the friendship of the people of Gibraltar.”



Related Links:

Also available - RAF Gibraltar by Tony Fairbairn at Amazon.co.uk

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